Last week, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its new, draft guidelines for the voluntary adoption of environmental health programs by K-12 schools. The goal of these guidelines is to provide a comprehensive framework for improving the health and well-being of students by creating and sustaining healthy, safe, and productive school environments. The intent of these guidelines ties in very nicely with the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools program, which identifies “Healthy School Environments” as one of its three pillars that will be assessed in the selection of recognized schools for the first time this year.
Specifically, the State K-12 School Environmental Health Program Guidelines recommend six steps that states and tribes can take to establish key partnerships to maximize resources in their efforts to develop sustainable school environmental health programs. They also summarize the cost savings and health benefits associated with adopting a school environmental health program; highlight incentives for states and tribes to work with school districts to encourage the adoption of healthy schools practices; and provide links to numerous resources to help states and tribes establish, implement and sustain comprehensive state and tribal K-12 school environmental health programs.
The EPA is currently seeking public comments on these guidelines to facilitate their continued development. The 45-day public comment period for this draft document will close at 4:00 PM Eastern Daylight Savings Time (EDT) on April 13, 2012. For information on how to submit your comments, please refer to the EPA State School Environmental Health Guidelines website.
The Funding Opportunity
To support the implementation of the strategies outlined in the draft voluntary K-12 School Environmental Health Program Guidelines, the EPA has announced the release of a Request for Applications (RFA) that will provide funding to eligible states, tribes and/or territories. The total funding available for this opportunity is expected to be $750,000 and applications for up to $150,000 will be accepted. The closing date for receipt of applications is April 10. For more information or to provide comments on the draft guidelines, visit: www.epa.gov/schools.