Funding can improve standard facilities and protocols

Schools now have a rare opportunity to focus on their facilities. The American Rescue Plan and the 2021 Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act have provided tens of billions of dollars to American schools, including funds that can be used to upgrade facilities focused on health and sustainability.

The funds were made available by the federal government, but they are administered by the states. This means that each state has its own approach to allocating the money and tracking how it is spent, so the restrictions vary across the board. However, since every school district is unique, the US bailout was designed to allow school districts across the country to invest in improvements that meet their unique needs.

As indoor air quality and cleaning priorities change dramatically based on population size, age of buildings, humidity levels, location and many other factors, funding of the plan is flexible enough to address various concerns and make schools safer and healthier for all students. From hand sanitizer and cleaning equipment to air filters, HVAC systems and floor care equipment, each facility has different priorities for upgrading their existing on-call protocols and programs. , but all of these items were purchased by different school districts with funds provided by American Rescue. Plan.

Very few of the things that make schools healthier are excluded from this funding, so schools with different needs (for example, schools in Florida and Maine) can each uniquely improve health and fitness. sustainability of their campuses.

A standard protocol

How can schools stretch those dollars to have the biggest impact? This is the question the Healthy Schools campaign and the Green Seal attempted to answer; eventually creating a joint program called Healthy Green Schools & Colleges.

School and university facilities management professionals make day-to-day decisions that affect health, safety, and sustainability, but budget realities mean they often lack adequate funding and resources for the essential work they do in the field. taking care of students and staff. What is missing is a national standard for implementing and measuring facility management improvements that make the biggest differences in indoor air quality and environmental sustainability, without requiring major investments in capital.

We have worked with principals from award-winning K-12 institutions and academics to develop such a standard, along with resources and tools to help facility managers begin to achieve it. As the first national standard for healthy and sustainable school facilities, it helps facility professionals refer to a science-based third-party benchmark when explaining improvements they make to processes and procedures. It also allows staff to better communicate about health and safety measures that students, staff, parents and administrators care about.

The program covers the full spectrum of facility management practices, from cleaning, disinfection and indoor air quality monitoring to HVAC maintenance, sustainable purchasing and integrated pest management. First, a self-assessment tool allows schools to objectively measure their current performance in indoor environmental health and sustainability, while guides, training, and tools help facility professionals determine and take next steps. steps.

Second, the standard’s point-based scoring system encourages schools to continue to improve at their own pace, with the support of a network of facility management peers across the country who are on a journey. similar. Schools that achieve the highest level of achievement can apply for third-party certification, gaining public recognition for their proven expertise in providing healthy school environments.

Healthy Green Schools & Colleges is designed to be accessible to schools of all backgrounds, whether they are just starting to explore improvements in environmental health and sustainability or are already a leader. The program provides school leaders with the education and resources to transform the health and sustainability of their school and university environments, and funds made available through the American Rescue Plan are enabling more school districts and d universities to address their most pressing concerns.

Ultimately, the way schools manage their facilities is a testament to the value they place on their students, staff and surrounding communities. While school facilities face a number of challenges today, all campuses have the capacity to continuously improve, making facilities progressively safer, healthier, and more sustainable each school year. We are committed to providing educational professionals with the resources and network necessary to ensure the quality of the educational institution that every student in America deserves.

Sara Porter fulfills a dual role as Vice President of External Affairs at Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC) and the director of Healthy green schools and colleges, a partnership between HSC and Green seal. Sara joined HSC in 208 and has worked on the organization’s green cleaning efforts ever since. In her role as Director of Healthy Green Schools & Colleges, Sara led the team through the design and construction of this new program, from stakeholder engagement to standards development, from design from program to corporate fundraising. Sara builds and maintains relationships with numerous external partners, oversees corporate fundraising and is part of the HSC leadership team.

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