In just a few weeks, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will release its annual Healthy CPS Survey. This survey is the pathway for a school to become Healthy CPS certified, which earns them the district’s annual health-focused measure displayed on the school progress report card. One of the key things a school must do to become “Healthy CPS” is to implement the district’s wellness policy.
To encourage schools to promote healthy eating and physical activity, school districts that participate in the federal school meal program are required by Congress to have a wellness policy in place. Currently, CPS has adopted three policies that promote healthy eating and physical activity: the Local School Wellness Policy, the Healthy Snack and Beverage Policy and the Physical Education Policy. Combined, these policies address nutritional standards for food served in cafeterias and vending machines as well as requirements for nutrition education and physical education.
By incorporating metrics for health and wellness into school accountability systems, CPS recognizes the strong relationship that exists between academic achievement and student health and wellness. The CPS Office of Student Health and Wellness will be debuting a new healthy school indicator on the CPS School Progress Report this fall. On an annual basis, every spring, schools are asked to report their progress in implementing the district’s wellness policy via the Healthy CPS survey. Prior to the survey, schools assess their school wellness environment using a checklist, create an action plan with the school’s wellness team and implement the identified health-promoting changes. The idea is that by the time spring rolls around the school will be poised to earn the healthy school certification.
You can help your school on the path to Healthy CPS certification by joining and working with your School Wellness Team. Required by the Local School Wellness Policy, wellness teams are a key way to ensure that wellness initiatives are being put into action. As a team:
- Become familiar with the Local School Wellness Policy, Healthy Snack and Beverage Policy and PE policy
- Download and fill out the school wellness checklist to see what criteria your school is already meeting and what areas need upgrading
- Create an Action Plan and identify resources
- Implement healthy changes
Healthy Schools Campaign is happy to help Chicago schools work toward achieving the healthy school certification. Please contact Rosa Ramirez Richter at firstname.lastname@example.org.