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Ed. Dept., HHS Offer Suggestions to Help Districts Pair Academics, Health Services

Attention school district officials: Do you want to offer more health services to your students but aren't sure where to start? The U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services have some ideas.

The two agencies took a look at policies and programs that already seem to be getting results in some school districts, and they put out some guidance to help districts and health care agencies collaborate more. You can read the letter here.

What's more, the Education Department and HHS released a tool kit offering five ideas to help districts integrate more health services into schools. They have five suggestions, plus some practical advice for implementation, and links to resources, complete with at least one real-life example.

The ideas include:

  • Helping students and family members sign up for health insurance
  • Providing services that can be reimbursed through Medicaid on site. (That's something Cincinnati has tried through school-based health clinics. Hanover County schools in Virginia, too, are a leader in this area, according to the department.)
  • Working with community-based organizations to provide wraparound services to students. (That's something Park Elementary in Hayward California is trying, and it's also popular in Massachusetts, which has placed "wrap coordinators" in low-performing schools in a handful of districts.)
  • Promote healthy practices at school by integrating physical activity into the school day. Districts around the country have been experimenting for years with everything from offering fresh peaches to low-income students (that's done in Guilford County in North Carolina) to offering yoga to help kids manage stress (schools in New York City have tried that.) The department's tool kit shines a spotlight on the Jennings School District in Missouri (headed by Tiffany Anderson, an Education Week Leader to Learn From.)
  • Build partnerships with local providers, including hospitals. A network of schools in Indiana is a leader here.

Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John King made the new guidance the focus of a stop in Houston, Texas, part of his post-State of the Union "Opportunity for America" tour. King is also heading to Orlando, Fla., Philadelphia, and Wilmington, Del.

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