March 2016

The California School Environmental Health and Asthma Collaborative
brings together education and health professionals to promote indoor and outdoor environments that maximize health and learning in schools.
SEHAC Featured Resource

By Attendance Works and the Healthy Schools Campaign
September 2015
As we work to close achievement gaps and reduce dropout rates, educators and policymakers often overlook another pernicious problem that is undermining success for our most vulnerable young students: the attendance gap. Across the country each year an estimated 5 million to 7.5 million students are missing nearly a month of school and suffering academically for it.
The problem starts early: At least 10 percent of kindergartners and first graders miss that much school, absences that can stall their progress in reading and deny them an equal opportunity to learn. Chronic absence flares again in middle and high school, when it becomes an early warning sign that students will drop out. Attendance data gathered through the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows children from low-income families and communities of color, and those with disabilities, are disproportionately affected.
Chronic absence, or missing 10% or more of the school year, isn't simply a matter of truancy or skipping school. Many absences, especially among our youngest students, are excused and tied directly to health factors: asthma and dental problems, learning disabilities and mental health issues related to trauma and community violence. In many cases, these attendance trends go unnoticed because schools are counting how many students show up every day rather than looking at how many miss so much school, for any reason, that they are falling behind.
This brief describes how states can use their data to map the attendance gap in order to help schools and communities unpack when and why chronic absence becomes a problem in the early grades so that they can put in place effective solutions.  It also discusses what a variety of stakeholders, across sectors, can do to address the attendance gap by promoting actionable data, positive messaging, capacity building and shared accountability. 

See Hedy Chang, Attendance Works Executive Director, at
the SEHAC Annual School Symposium 
The Impacts of Chronic Absenteeism in K-12 Schools and Strategies to Address the Problem

In addition, presentations on asthma and obesity and additional school-related issues and resources will be addressed.
Date: May 20th, 2016 
            8:30am to 1:30pm
            at The California Endowment, in downtown Oakland.

Travel stipends:  Available for those who qualify. Contact

The California School Nurses Organization (CSNO) will be granting CEUs. Provider-approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Numbers 04269, for 3.0 contact hours. A nominal charge will be collected at the event for CEUs.

*Check out the side bar and click on REGISTER to reserve your spot.

New Healthy Schools Act Requirements: Using Microfiber Provides Safer Alternatives

By Debbie Shrem
When Nancy cleaned her desk, she was surprised that her co-worker, Carmen, suddenly needed her inhaler. And what caused Carmen's asthma to flare up? Nancy had sprayed a disinfectant.
Unfortunately, this type of scenario is all too common, and cases similar to Carmen's get reported to the California Department of Public Health's Work-Related Asthma Prevention Program (WRAPP). Some disinfectants contain harmful chemicals associated with asthma, cancer, and hormone disruption. I t is easy to use disinfectants incorrectly, causing people to be overly- exposed to them. For example, there are varying requirements about how long the surface needs to stay wet for a disinfectant to work.
With recent updates to the California Healthy Schools Act, school    staff may be better equipped to clean more safely in schools. Beginning July 2016, all school staff will be required to take a one hour Department of Pesticide Regulation training in order to use disinfectants in schools. This includes teachers who clean desks or other surfaces using disinfectants, including disinfecting wipes. For more information visit:
WRAPP would like to provide safer alternatives to disinfecting and is looking for school district partners to participate in a Microfiber Trade-in Awards Program in the spring and fall of 2016. Participating districts will receive microfiber cloths, relevant resources, and technical assistance to clean more safely. By cleaning with microfiber, teachers can maintain healthier classrooms without the complications and exposures associated with using disinfectants. Using microfiber instead of disinfectants also exempts them from taking the required Healthy Schools Act training.
For more information, contact
or read about WRAPP's work with schools and cleaning: Asthma-Safer Schools Cleaning Guide and .
SEHAC Featured Member Organization


Optimizing Student Health and Enhancing Learning
The California School Nurses Organization (CSNO) is a professional organization of registered credentialed nurses who work in California public, private and charter schools. School nurses are the primary health professionals within the educational community who provide healthcare and case management to students. Our primary role is to remove or mitigate health barriers to learning and to ensure that students are safe at school. We serve as the liaison between the schools, home, the medical community and other agencies and stakeholders who have an interest in student health.
School nurses are responsible for developing health and emergency care plans for students with chronic and/or life-threatening health conditions such as severe allergies to foods and insect stings, diabetes and, of course, asthma. Asthma affects thousands of school children in California and is a leading cause of school absences. Absenteeism, especially chronic absenteeism, can lead to lowered academic performance and also impact parents who may have to miss workdays to care for sick children.  
CSNO supports the development of school wide asthma management plans. School nurses play an important role in implementing this plan and overseeing students' safety and asthma management at school. School nurses provide asthma education to the family and school staff. This education can include environmental factors that can trigger an asthma episode, medications and what to do in an asthma emergency. We are responsible for overseeing medication that may be given during the school day and also communicating with parents and medical healthcare providers about students' health status, especially if their asthma is not well controlled.
School nurses are committed to student safety and academic success! For more information about school nurses or the California School Nurses Organization, please look us up on the internet at
 The Impacts of Chronic Absenteeism in K-12 Schools and Strategies to Address the Problem

May 20, 2016
  8:30AM to  1:30PM    
The California Endowment,
in downtown Oakland.

In This Issue
Resources for Schools  

If you have a child with asthma, Lungtropolis is the web site to visit. You'll find action-packed games designed to help kids ages five to ten control their asthma - plus advice for parents like you.
Healthy School Yards - this website is a reference tool to start conversations and help link together different groups of parents, teachers, principals, school staff, landscapers, arborists, health professionals and concerned citizens. While offering other helpful resources.

Check out the Best practices to Reduce Near-Road Air Pollution Exposures at Schools list to find what you or your school can do to reduce traffic-related air contamination exposure.
Safe Cleaning for People with Asthma - Cleaning with non-toxic cleaners is a way to clean your home and manage asthma. Take a look at these  easy, inexpensive and non-polluting  r ecipes.
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SEHAC Website 
Where you can find:

S EHAC's series of four-to-eight minute narrated films on important asthma-related topics.
Information for the California Department of Public Health's Asthma in California.
Extensive online information and tools.
A variety of documents detailing SEHAC's history, current membership, a membership application, and contact information.

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