Projects for a Healthy School Environment

Did you know that out of the nearly 3,800 schools in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the average school building is over 45 years old? Many are in poor condition due to deferred maintenance (or outdated methods) and resulting conditions can have a serious impact on student and staff health and performance.  States may have regulations or guidance documents on “healthy school environments”, but they are developed by a variety of agencies outside of the State Department of Education and there are no national regulations designating parameters.

The good news is that there are now excellent guidelines for no-cost, low-cost, logical and affordable measures to help improve the health of schools! The project resources in this section (and others) align with the Eco-School USA Sustainability Pathways and The U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools “pillars” of healthy schools: 1) reducing environmental impact and costs; 2) improving the health and wellness of students and staff; and 3) providing effective sustainability education. Learn more about how to pursue initiatives to improve school health indoors and out and help students and staff utilize the school and school grounds as a learning tool to connect to the environment, improve health and performance, and develop the knowledge and skills to address sustainability and environmental issues in their community.

Topics

Green squirt bottle

Green Cleaning & Sustainable Purchasing

There are many sources of chemical exposure in schools, from cleaning supplies, to science labs, to furniture and carpeting. Reduce the risk with green cleaning choices, safer chemical management, and sustainable product purchasing.

Projects »

  • Green Cleaning for Schools
  • Purchase Green & Sustainable Products
  • Safe Chemical Management in Schools
  • Parents walking children to school - Courtesy of USFWS

    Healthy & Responsible Transportation Projects

    Addressing the ways students travel to and from school, and understanding the impact of those choices on the environment and children’s health, is an important part of creating healthy school environments.

    Projects »

  • Programs to Reduce Vehicle Idling
  • Walking, Biking & Safe Routes Programs
  • Students making healthy snacks - Photo Credit: USDA

    Healthy Sustainable Food for Schools

    Learn about initiatives that can be implemented at your school to bring in fresh, local food; provide healthy school meals; improve student nutrition; provide edible gardening opportunities and connect schools to their local communities and farms.

    Projects »

  • Healthy, Sustainable School Food Initiatives
  • Procuring Healthy Food for Schools
  • Edible School Gardens
  • Open door in a field of grass

    Improve & Protect School Air Quality

    Poor indoor air quality can impact the comfort and health of students and staff, which can affect concentration, attendance and student performance, and cause a variety of health problems. Learn more about improving air quality at your school.

    Projects »

  • Improve & Protect School Air Quality
  • Girl holding beetle - Courtesy of USFWS

    Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

    Pesticides pose a serious threat to pollinators and can have short and long-term impact on children’s health. Learn more below about developing an effective and environmentally sensitive school IPM plan to reduce contact with pests and exposure to pesticides.

    Projects »

  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
  • Student playing hopscotch - Courtesy of USFWS

    Physical Fitness & Outdoor Time

    Studies show that time spent outdoors and active helps children’s physical health, enhances attention spans, boosts classroom performance, and encourages environmental stewardship. Learn how to incorporate physical activity and outdoor time into the school day.

    Projects »

  • Encourage Physical Fitness & Outdoor Time
  • Fourth Grader learning about water quality on the Learning Barge

    Safe Drinking Water in Schools

    Hundreds of thousands of schools and childcare facilities are not regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act and may be at risk for contaminants in drinking water that can cause serious health problems for children and adults. Learn how to take steps to ensure safe drinking water at your school.

    Projects »

  • Safe Drinking Water: Train, Test, Tell