School health, when I was a kid, was either a little room with a very cold vinyl bed or it was a class you had to take with classmates of the same gender that taught students the basic functions of the human body. The only person that was in charge of school health was the nurse, who was only part time. Well that has all changed now.
With the media’s attention focused on flu out breaks, and school administrators having to submit real-time reports that dissect health trends in a district, state and region, school health is at the forefront of many people’s minds. There is also the fact that many school district budgets are tied to attendance in one way or another. Money strapped schools are paying attention to every dollar, incoming and outgoing.
So this raises the question, who is really in charge of the school health?
School Health Isn’t What You Think
Most don’t realize it but the school custodian is. In a lot of cases, the custodial staff doesn’t even know how important their role is.
From the beginning of modern civilization, cleanliness (or the lack there of) has been directly tied to the spread of illness. From the Bubonic Plagues of the late 1300’s and early 1400’s up to today, the fact is that keeping a society healthy begins with cleanliness. Then, why is the school custodian often not viewed (or educated) to be focus of healthy schools?
The Impact Of School Health
Having worked with many schools at all levels over the years, I have seen the impact cleanliness has on health in schools. Trying to convince a school superintendent, principal or even a school board that their cleaning staff, whom in many cases, has no formal sanitation training and at the very bottom of the pay scale, is one of their most important employees, is a tough sell. After all, none of the other school employees are relevant if the students aren’t there due to illness.
Every parent should be asking, “Who is in charge of school health?”