WellSpot Resources

School Specific

Tobacco-Free Campus Policy - School Specific

Schools and school districts across the country are going tobacco-free on their campuses, including schools here in Louisiana!  Going 100% tobacco-free protects both school-aged youth and school staff from exposure to secondhand smoke.  A Tobacco-Free Policy outlines what is and is not allowed on school property and provides a tool for enforcement with students, employees and visitors.  All school WellSpots are required to implement a Tobacco-Free Policy for designation at any level.  For sample policies and tips for implementing in your school, visit the provided resources.

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Tobacco Prevention Education

Youth are particularly vulnerable to nicotine dependency and tobacco industry marketing tactics. Early use of any tobacco product (cigarettes, chew/dip/snuff, little cigars, or e-cigarettes) among youth, disrupts brain development, increases the risk of long-term addiction, and may cause irreversible health effects before leaving school or reaching adulthood.[1] Schools are in a unique position to play a key role in preventing and reducing tobacco use among young people.[2] School-based education programs are an effective way to address all aspects of tobacco use, including education on health effects, social influences, peer pressure, refusal skills, and media literacy as it relates to tobacco marketing and advertising.[3]

Education to prevent tobacco use should be provided to students in each grade, from kindergarten through 12th grade. Because tobacco use often begins in grades six through eight, more intensive instructional programs should be provided for these grade levels. Particularly important is the year of entry into junior high or middle school when new students are exposed to older students who use tobacco at higher rates. Thereafter, annual prevention education should be provided. Without continued reinforcement throughout high school, successes in preventing tobacco use dissipates over time.

All level 1 and 2 school WellSpots are required to implement a tobacco prevention education program for designation. For sample program content, lesson plans, presentations and activities on implementing tobacco prevention education programs within your school, please visit the following resources. 

[1]Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youths, Surgeon General fact sheet. (2020). Retrieved 11 June 2020, from https://www.hhs.gov/surgeongeneral/reports-and-publications/tobacco/preventing-youth-tobacco-use-factsheet/index.html
[2]See TFK fact sheet, How Schools Can Help Students Stay Tobacco Free, How Schools Can Help Students Stay Tobacco Free Factsheet.

[3]Flay, B, "Psychosocial approaches to smoking prevention: a review of findings," Health Psychology 4(5):449-88, Sept 1985. See, also, Best, J, et al., "Preventing cigarette smoking among school children," Annual Reviews of Public Health 9:161-201, 1988.

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School Employee Wellness

Healthy employees are more productive, have more energy, are better able to manage stress, and are more likely to model healthy behaviors. By prioritizing employee wellness, schools can empower staff to feel their best while further supporting students' well-being (Alliance for a Healthier Generation).Wellness programs can be implemented at little to no cost while creating an environment that supports health.

Wellness programs include a coordinated and comprehensive set of strategies, which promote and support overall health and safety for all employees, such as healthy eating, physical activity, mental health (including stress management) and tobacco cessation. Strategies may include, but are not limited to: wellness policies, preventative health screenings, access to healthy foods, fitness programs, tobacco-cessation programs, and educational seminars. 

Offering wellness activities can provide employees the opportunity to improve their health and reduce their risk of chronic disease. This leads to reduce staff stress, improved staff morale and productivity, and reduced costs associated with staff healthcare and absenteeism.

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USDA Smart Snacks in Schools

Smart Snacks in School refers to the national nutrition standards for foods and beverages sold outside of the federal reimbursable school meal programs during the school day. These items are called "competitive foods" because they can compete with participation in school meal programs.

As of the 2014-2015 school year, all competitive foods and beverages sold during the school day must meet or exceed Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards, which include limits on fat, sugar, and calorie content. These standards are the minimum requirement for schools, but states and local education agencies can continue to implement stronger nutrition standards for all competitive foods in schools.

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Build Support

Each school within a school district should develop a wellness committee. A school wellness committee is essentially an advisory group whose role is to implement programs and practices that reflect the needs of their students and staff. Wellness committees should have representation from school staff, students, family members, and community members. 

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CDC's School Health Index

The CDC's School Health Index (SHI) is an online self-assessment and planning tool that schools can use to improve their health and safety policies and programs. The SHI aligns with the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model. The SHI enables schools to identify strengths and weaknesses of health and safety policies and programs, develop an action place for improving student health, and engages all education stakeholders in promoting  health-enhancing behaviors and better health. Participation in the SHI should be a group effort. The strength of the process comes from having individuals from different parts of the school community working together and strategizing to improve school policies, programs, and practices.

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School Physical Activity-Based Practices

Physical activity has been shown to help boost academic performance, improve classroom behavior and strengthen cognitive skills and attitudes. Opportunities for physical activity occur before and after school, during the school day, and in physical education classes. Schools that take advantage of these opportunities and who engage staff, families and the community can help their students meet the nationally-recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day and help them develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to be physically active for a lifetime.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health and Academic Achievement Overview. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2014.

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School Nutrition-Based Practices

School nutrition plays a key role in a child's academic achievement. Students that are not eating breakfast or are not consuming enough food or nutrients have lower grades, are absent from school more often, struggle focusing and have decreased cognitive performance. Opportunities to improve the school nutrition environment in the cafeteria, in the classroom and at school and community events. School Wellness Committees should work together to improve school nutrition.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health and Academic Achievement Overview. Atlanta, GA: U..S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2014.

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Health Services-Based Practices

School health services intervene with actual and potential health problems, including providing first aid, emergency care, and assessment and planning for the management of chronic conditions (such as asthma or diabetes). In addition, wellness promotion, preventive services, staff, student and parent education complement the provision of care coordination services. Health services connect school staff, students, families, community and healthcare providers to promote the healthcare of students and a healthy, safe school environment.

For students with chronic health conditions, school nurses and other healthcare providers play a large role in the daily management of their conditions. School health services staff also are responsible for coordinating care by communicating with the student's family and healthcare providers so that they can stay healthy and ready to learn.

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Professional Development

Implementing changes in your school community can be intimidating. Training and professional development is a great way to gain new skills and strategies for implementing healthy changes. Professional development is a consciously designed, systematic process that strengthens how staff obtain, develop, retain, and apply knowledge, skills, and attitudes. It is an ongoing process which prepares educators to create and support healthy environments in schools, improving learning and health for the students they serve.

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