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Healthy School Environment

The physical and aesthetic surroundings and the psychosocial climate and culture of the school.

The school environment includes the physical, psychological, and social aspects of the setting in which students learn and teachers teach. The school's physical environment refers to the school building and surrounding grounds and encompasses conditions such as cleanliness, noise, temperature, and lighting as well as biological, chemical, and structural hazards. The psychological climate includes the attitudes, feelings, and values of students, staff, and their families. The social aspect of the school environment refers to the school's organization, decision-making process, policies and practices, and consistency of enforcement of those policies and practices.

Students, teachers, administrators, staff, and visitors who work in an inviting environment take pride in their surroundings and feel good about themselves. Yet, according to a government survey, a significant number of public schools are in dire need of repair; more than one-third of all students attend classes in school buildings that need serious renovation or replacement. Students who are concerned about their physical safety, whether from human factors such as harassment or violence, or environmental factors such as unsafe buildings, unclean air, or asbestos, cannot concentrate on the business of education. Children take their messages from their surroundings. If they feel that they and their education are valued, they are more likely to do well academically.

Helpful Links

HealthySEAT--Healthy School Environments Assessment Tool
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an outstanding tool to help school districts to evaluate and manage their school facilities for key environmental, safety and health issues. The Healthy School Environments Assessment Tool (HealthySEAT) is customizable and freeTo get more information or to download HealthySEAT, please visit:

Protecting Students from Harassment and Hate Crime: A Guide for Schools provides information about developing policies and practices to prevent harassment and responding when it does occur. The text is available on the US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights home page at ED.gov.

Injuries in the School Environment: A Resource Guide developed by the Children's Safety Network at Education Development Center (http://www.hhd.org) gives examples of actions schools can take and lists resources to support these activities.

Guidelines for School Programs To Prevent Skin Cancer, available on CDC's Web site, http://www.cdc.gov.