Schools are busy and complex systems of people and are created for educating school-aged youth. Families and the community at large expect schools to be safe and effective. The most effective way to create safe and supportive learning environments is through the development and implementation of clear and purposeful school policies.
School Policy Definition
School policy is defined as the set of established expectations for specific behavior and norms within a school. School policies are put in place to guide the day-to-day functioning of the school as well as to make it safe and an effective place for learning to occur.
Typically, schools and school districts have specific policies for different target audiences. For example, schools may have policies for families regarding sick children and drop off and pick-up. Schools may also have policies for students such as uniforms, cell phone policies or attendance policies. School policies are usually written out in the form of the student and parent handbook or online through the school's website.
Establishing School Policies
In order for school policies to be effective, they have to be more than just statements on paper. School policies have to be clearly articulated to faculty, staff, students and parents. All groups must be made aware of the policies and exactly how they are expected to follow them.
Ensuring that everyone is clear about policies and procedures will help reduce confusion. Additionally, if policies and procedures are clear, the greater the likelihood that they will be followed appropriately.
School Policy for Safety
Overall, school safety is a top priority for schools. Therefore, schools across the country have implemented specific school safety policies to ensure a safe learning environment. For example, schools now regularly practice lock-down drills and have set clear procedures for how to handle a stranger on campus.
Other School Policies
While some school policies may vary, as individual school community needs may vary, there are a few general school policies that are commonplace among most schools. A few common policies that you will find at most public schools include:
- School Policy on Lice
- School Policy on Fever
- School Policy on Essential Oils
School Policy on Lice
Lice are highly contagious and schools generally want to ensure there are policies in place to reduce the number of cases. While eliminating lice completely is almost impossible, policies generally aim to reduce the spread.
In most cases, children will not be allowed to attend school with live lice in their hair. If there is any evidence of live lice, the child will be sent home or not allowed to attend until the lice are gone. However, once the lice are treated, often the nits, or lice eggs, remain.
There is some variance in flexibility, however, most schools will enforce a no nit policy. Essentially this means that children may not return to school until every last nit is picked out of the hair.
School Policy on Fever
In order for schools to be safe and supportive learning environments, schools will enforce policies to keep students healthy. When a child has a fever, often a precursor to a variety of illnesses, is when they can be very contagious. The temperature threshold for fever is typically established at 101.9 degrees Fahrenheit or above.
Typically, school policy for fever is that students may not return to school until they have been fever-free for 24 hours. However, it is important to understand that the student must be fever-free without any type of fever-reducing medication. In order to return to school, the student must be fever-free without medication for the entire 24-hour period.
School Policy on Essential Oils
With the growing popularity of the use of essential oils, some schools and school systems have implemented strict policy for the limited use of these oils. Partly because these oils are not approved or regulated by the FDA, but also because there have been instances in which oils have triggered migraines, respiratory issues and allergic reactions.
Some school policies allow for the oils to be diffused, but others ban that completely. Most do not allow the oils to be applied topically as a treatment in any way or under any circumstance.
Melanie Forstall has a doctorate in education and has worked in the field of education for over 20 years. She has been a teacher, grant writer, program director, and higher education instructor. She is a freelance writer specializing in education, and education related content. She writes for We Are Teachers, School Leaders Now, Classroom, Pocket Sense, local parenting magazines, and other professional academic outlets. Additionally, she has co-authored book chapters specializing in providing services for students with disabilities.