New York State law requires that schools participate in an Automated External Defibrillator program. Each of our over 1400 schools is a Public Access Defibrillation site. OSH works with a vendor to provide service to the AED’s, and to provide CPR and AED training to our staff.
This tool is available in all elementary and intermediate schools. It has greatly expanded the ability of school nurses to care for students. It also assures that records are immediately available when a student transfers from one school to another.
In suspected cases of communicable disease, environmental illness, or food-borne illness, schools will immediately notify OSH, which will conduct an investigation. If the investigation results indicate that notification of the school community is warranted, OSH will provide principals with letters to be distributed in classrooms and through the regular mail.
OSH is working closely with the Office of Fitness and Physical Education to implement a new fitness program. Components include the Physical Best curriculum, the NYC FITNESSGRAM Fitness Assessment program and a new middle school intramural/interscholastic sports and fitness league.
OSH supports the efforts of the Office of Health Education and Family Living to implement comprehensive health education, including HIV/AIDS instruction; to collaborate with the NYC DOHMH on the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and other initiatives; and to provide professional development and technical assistance to the field.
Almost all children in New York City public schools are eligible for public health insurance at minimal or no cost. School records show that approximately 10% of our school children are uninsured. OSH collaborates with the Human Resources Administration to provide access to public health insurance to our students and their families through the schools.
Almost half of New York City children are not living with a healthy weight. Many are not physically fit. In addition to the fitness initiatives supported by the Office of School Wellness Programs, OSH works with the School Food program to improve the quality of student meals and encourage participation in the universal free breakfast program. The Department of Health has a helpful publication for parents titled Helping Children Reach a Healthy Weight. This publication is also available in Chinese and Spanish.
Pediculosis (Head Lice)
There is now a “no head lice” policy for all NYC public schools, but no longer a “no nit” policy. Students found to have live head lice will be excluded from school and not allowed to return until they are lice-free. Students will be reexamined in 14 days to confirm that they have remained lice-free. Students with nits and no evidence of live head lice will not be excluded from school.
OSH is improving its vision and hearing programs to ensure that all children are screened, and that children with serious vision or hearing problems receive the evaluation and treatment they need. National data indicate that about 25% of students need glasses by the time they reach high school. Furthermore, about 3% of children suffer from amblyopia, a condition that may result in blindness in one eye if not detected and treated before age seven.
In response to a new federal requirement DOE has adopted a Wellness Policy. This policy seeks to promote the health and well-being of our students, while taking into account competing priorities and the availability of funds. DOE engaged students, parents, teachers, food service professionals, health professionals and other interested community members in policy development and review.