You are here

Articles: Health & Wellness

Schools can bill Medicaid beyond special ed services, for various health assessments and treatments that school nurses or school-based clinics provide daily

Schools can be reimbursed for providing many general health services—a new benefit thanks to a change in federal law.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced the shift in December 2014, but many districts miss out on this source of federal funding that can lead to improvements in student health, experts say.

Students from Burton Hill Elementary School, part of Forth Worth ISD in Texas, get hands-on learning opportunities for all academic subjects using an outdoor garden and classroom.
Nationwide, some 94 percent of teachers in the school garden program reported seeing increased engagement from their students.
Burton Hill Elementary teachers attend professional development sessions to learn how to connect their lessons to activities in their school garden.
Over the past 12 years, REAL School Gardens has worked with more than 100 schools and trained 3,500 teachers.

School gardens used for instruction are on the rise nationwide, and with them, student engagement and test scores, according to a recent study.

The nonprofit REAL School Gardens works with corporations to build outdoor classrooms at low-income schools. The gardens include 150 square feet of vegetable beds, perennial and herb beds, rainwater collection systems, composting bins, earth science stations, and animal habitats.

Low-income students are more likely to have uncorrected vision problems. (Click to enlarge)

Millions of youth are disproportionately affected by health problems that impair their motivation and ability to learn, according to the August Education Commission of the States report, “Heath barriers to learning and the education opportunity gap.”

Schools can play a central role in identifying unmet student health needs, and connecting students to community health services, the report states.

The accompanying graphics shows some major health barriers to learning.

Psychologists from Ardsley Union Free School District in New York use behavioral therapy for students who injure themselves.

Emergency room visits for self-inflicted injuries in adolescents have risen significantly since 2009, according to a study in July Pediatrics. Schools looking to curb this behavior have turned to new mental health programs that focus on navigating stress and emotional regulation.

Cody Jenschke, head athletic trainer at Flower Mound High School in Lewisville ISD in Texas speaks with an injured athlete while the team physician evaluates his hip during a game.
Varsity girls’ soccer players are also at risk of injury. Above, the Lawrenceville School team competes in recent game. According to a report in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, girls aged 15 to 19 who play soccer have a greater chance to incur brain injury, compared to other sports.
Varsity football is a big deal at The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey. And athletic trainer Michael Goldenberg says tests for concussions are 10 times better and more prevalent than a decade ago. Some tests include checking an athlete’s response to light, looking for physical signs of head trauma and asking questions, looking for any signs of amnesia.

By the time a 220-pound linebacker gets in his way, a high school running back has built significant momentum. The resulting collisions have been described with metaphors involving rams, brick walls and Mack trucks.

Two students at the Shaker Heights City School District help tend to their high school garden project—part outdoor learning lab and part “market” for their school lunches.

Students ease stress with stretches in elementary school yoga sessions. In another district, students taste vegetables they’ve never tried before after growing produce in a school garden. Elsewhere, more students eat healthy breakfasts they’ve grabbed from convenient to-go carts in the morning. This kind of innovation is evident across the country, as district leaders find new ways to promote health and wellness.

Students in four classrooms at Vallecito Elementary School, part of Dixie School District outside of San Francisco, now use standing desks.

Students show stronger concentration when working at standing desks, according to new research. A recent study in the International Journal of Health Promotion and Education found that students using standing desks improved their ability to stay on task in class by 12 percent—the equivalent of gaining seven minutes per hour of instruction time.

Researchers from Texas A&M and the University of Louisville studied 282 students in grades 2 through 4 for an academic year. Twenty-four classrooms were randomly chosen to receive standing desks or keep traditional seated desks.

Tom Wohlleber, assistant superintendent for business services for Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, leads a safety session with administrators and teachers.

A “culture of safety”—at all levels of a district—is the first and most critical step in dealing with occupational injury. It also guides the prevention of, response to and mitigation of hazards in the workplace, including staff behavior.

Comfort dog Addie continues to help Sandy Hook Elementary students heal after the December 2012 shooting.
A student reads to Addie.
Teachers who must stay strong for students are often most in need of the dogs, handlers say.
Addie still visits a different Sandy Hook classroom each day. They help start conversations about hurts or fears among students.
A puppy in training to become a comfort dog takes a rest with an older pal.

Students who have lived through tragedy—from Newtown, Connecticut, to Joplin, Missouri—have found comfort in a source not often seen in schools: golden retrievers.

Adventure to Fitness
Polar GoFit Heart Rate App, by Polar Electro
CATCH Early Childhood Kit, by Flaghouse
Thumball, by Answers in Motion

From sports to exercise routines, the latest programs and activities in physical education aim to get students motivated and excited about being fit.

Fitness monitors and other new technology allow teachers, parents and students to track progress or stream fitness videos to mobile devices. These programs offer the flexibility to work out inside or outdoors.

Adventure to Fitness

Adventure to Fitness

La Habra City School District Superintendent Susan Belenardo has made fitness a priority.

California’s La Habra City School District, under the leadership of Superintendent Susan Belenardo, motivates its students to get up and moving with several wellness programs that are part of a countywide health and obesity prevention initiative.

The athletic trainer at Kimball High School in Dallas, Texas, helps players on the field during the football team’s opening game. (Photo: Renee Fernandes/NATA)

A student athlete with a concussion doesn’t face challenges only in returning to play. Their injury also can hinder their performance in the classroom, and administrators must make sure students who need rest or have to work more slowly are able to keep up with schoolwork during recovery.

Lawrence Public Schools is the first district in Kansas to adopt federal sex education standards that go beyond what’s required by the state.

Kansas requires all schools to teach some form of human sexuality and HIV awareness, but doesn’t stipulate a curriculum. The Lawrence school board voted last year to adopt the national standards, which provide a more detailed framework for age-appropriate sex education in K12, says Vanessa Sanburn, vice president of the school board.

Crew members wash and bundle produce to get ready to take to the Clarksville Downtown Market. The proceeds are donated to area hunger relief agencies.
Students spoke about their experiences with the Food Initiative program during an event in June.
Students grew vegetables such as carrots and learned how to make healthy meals.

Forty high school students from Tennessee and Kentucky spent their summer growing healthy food for themselves and the poor and homeless in their community.

The students were from the Clarksville-Montgomery County School District in Tennessee and Fort Campbell Schools in neighboring Kentucky.

They planted, cultivated and harvested various fruits and vegetables in a community garden, and sold them at a local market to raise funds for area hunger-relief organizations.

New federal rules  cap the amount of fat, sodium, sugar and calories in food available in schools.

As of July 1, students will have a harder time getting their hands on junk food in public schools, as stricter standards raise the nutritional value of what’s available in cafeterias, campus stores, snack bars and vending machines.