School Health Education and Services
Section Newsletter
Winter 2008

Chair's Message

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

 

Efforts are under way to plan and organize the SHES program for the APHA Annual Meeting in San Diego Oct. 25-29, 2008.  The call for abstracts is posted on the APHA Web site – please note the deadline for submission for abstracts to SHES was Feb. 13.

 

We have sent out a request to Section members to assist in the abstract review process.  Many have already responded, but we want to involve as many Section members as possible.  Needless to say, this is certainly one way each of us can contribute to the success of the Section.  For those of you giving of your time to serve as reviewers of abstracts, I am grateful for your immediate reply and interest in serving SHES.

 

Although SHES is among the smaller of the sections that make up APHA, the spirit and commitment you all bring to it allows SHES to stand proud as a key voice in promoting the well-being and health of the millions of students and school personnel who go to school across this nation every day.  We continue to grow, and our most recent membership roster shows that we have nearly 450 members in the Section.  We are hopeful that each Section member will, in the next three to six months, recruit one additional member.  If we do this, we will reach 900 members rather quickly.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could reach the 1,000 member plateau by the time of the San Diego meeting in October?

 

I wish to thank all the members of SHES, particularly the SHES  Board of Councilors and officers for their dedication to the profession and the time they take from their jobs, leisure time and family life to assure that SHES is well organized and represented within APHA.

 

With sincere appreciation,

 

Dan Adame

SHES, Chair

Celebrate National Public Health Week 2008

Celebrate National Public Health Week 2008 - Climate Change: Our Health in the Balance

The health effects of climate change will take center stage during National Public Health Week, April 7-13, 2008. As part of the weeklong observance, themed "Climate Change: Our Health in the Balance,"  APHA will lead the charge in helping people, communities and families recognize that adapting to climate change and mitigating its impact is critical not just for the health of our planet, but for the health of the people in our nation and around the world.

Changes in our climate are causing more severe weather events. Extreme weather conditions such as heat waves, high winds, snowstorms, floods and hurricanes have the potential to dramatically affect the health and safety of both individuals and our communities. Changing ecosystems allow for emerging or re-emerging infectious diseases such as dengue or malaria, which are changing the spectrum of disease risks affecting populations. In poorer parts of the world, drought and floods often force people to move away from lands no longer producing enough food, often resulting in hunger and malnutrition. Moreover, contaminated drinking water can result in outbreaks of diarrheal diseases leading to dehydration or death.

Few Americans will ever see the melting Greenland ice cap up close, or interact with an arctic polar bear facing extinction as its habitat melts.  But local public health professionals around the country increasingly will be dealing with the impacts of climate change on the ground, every day. Join APHA as we work to create a healthier planet. Visit the official National Public Health Week Web site at www.nphw.org to check out the climate change blog and brochure, sign up to be a National Public health Week partner or add your week's event to the national calendar.  For more information about National Public Health Week, contact kaitlin.sheedy@apha.org.

What's New in School Health Education

What's New in School Health Education?

If you are interested in contributing to the SHES's newsletter for a column on "What's New in School Health Education?" or another school health-related topic, please contact SHES Newsletter Editor Amy Cory, PhD, RN, CPNP, at amy.cory@valpo.edu.

Your contribution would be much appreciated. Thank you for your consideration.

What's New in School Health Services

Among school officials, confusion exists regarding the parameters for sharing personally identifiable information to protect students and faculty.  The media has highlighted that due to uncertainty, school officials hesitate to share information about students who pose a threat to themselves and the school community even when disclosure is allowed under current legislation.   In response to the tragedy at Virginia Tech, on Oct. 30, 2007 , Margaret Spellings, deputy of education, issued guidance to assist those in schools responsible for the safety of all students, but who also are sensitive for the need to protect student privacy. This article will summarize the document, Balancing Student Privacy and School Safety:  A Guide to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act for Elementary and Secondary School.  It is also available on the U.S. Department of Education Web site:  http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/secletter/071030.html

Most school officials understand the Family Education Rights Privacy Act, FERPA, allows the sharing of information in the event of an emergency.  Personally identifiable information can be disclosed to law enforcement officials, public health officials and trained medical personnel in an emergency situation.   However, what constitutes an emergency is not well understood.  The education agency or institution must make a case-by-case determination whether a disclosure is necessary to protect the health or safety of students and other individuals.  When in doubt, the U.S. Department of Education Family Policy Compliance Office can be contacted for assistance.  

In its Annual Notification of Information Practices, school districts must describe which school district office or official (school security staff, disciplinarian, off duty police officers) constitute the law enforcement unit.  Spellings states such officials should be identified in the annual notice as school employees with a “legitimate educational interest”, allowing them access to personally identifiable information from students’ education records. 

Conversely, records maintained independently by these law enforcement units are not education records.  Therefore, information in the school’s law enforcement unit records is not protected by FERPA privacy provisions and can be disclosed without parental consent.

Spellings re-emphasized parental consent is not needed to forward records when students transfer to another school or intend to enroll in another school, including discipline records.  If the district’s own policies do not require parent consent to forward records, it is recommended that this practice be detailed in the Annual Notice of Information Practices.  If it is not, school officials must make a reasonable attempt to notify parents about the disclosure. 

For additional information: 

U.S. Department of Education Family Policy Compliance Office:  (202) 260-3887

FERPA Compliance Training:   FERPA.client@ED.gov

Routine FERPA questions:  FERPA@ED.gov

For more information and guidance:  www.ed.gov/policy/gen/fpco/index.html

Advocacy in Action

Man With Heart Condition Wants Smoke-Free Eateries

After SHES Advocacy Chair Jim Bogden suffered a heart attack, he filed suit against several Virginia restaurants, invoking the Americans with Disabilities Act. His argument: restaurants must be smoke-free to accomodate his coronary artery disease. Bogden would like the lawsuit to set a national precedent.

Read about the case in this Jan. 31 article by Washington Post reporter Jerry Markon.

 

Highlight a Member: Martha (Marti) Kubik, PhD, MSN, RNC

When did you first become involved in SHES and why?

My first involvement with SHES was as a doctoral student. I presented an abstract at APHA in 1999 during a SHES session. This was my first experience presenting my research regarding the school food environment to a national audience. I have presented my research at a number of SHES sessions since that time and continue to find the experience rewarding and an outstanding opportunity to confer with colleagues and students about important school and student health-related issues that impact public health. I would strongly encourate students to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.

What various positions have you held in SHES and APHA?

Section Councilor is my first elected position with SHES and APHA.  As a researcher, educator and practitioner, I bring to the role of Section Councilor an applied knowledge and experience base informed by my work in schools, especially in the area of childhood obesity prevention.  In this position, I hope to advocate for further development of the role of undergraduate and graduate students in SHES. Another area of importance is ongoing guidance to members on how best to partner with school communities to conduct and disseminate research and translate research findings into workable, relevant information and programming for school communities.

What is the role of SHES in addressing challenging issues faced in school health education and services?

As SHES members, we are acutely aware of the important role of schools in supporting and promoting student health, as well as public health. As researchers, practitioners and community members, we have a vested interest in supporting school communities as they take important next steps to protect and promote public health in areas as diverse as a very real, very worrisome childhood obesity epidemic and a potential avian flu pandemic. Our support is realized as we partner with schools to provide services and conduct research, disseminate study findings to our colleagues and school partners and support and guide undergraduate/graduate students interested in school-based work and contributing to the health of schools. Our support and continued engagement is especially important at this time of constrained school budgets and mounting demands on school staff and student time.

Good News!

The National Association of School Nurses announced the hiring of Martha Dewey Bergren, DNS, RN, ILCSN, NCSN, FNASN, as the new director of research! Martha is a current SHES Councilor. Martha joined the NASN team on Jan. 7, 2008 .