Spring is here and warmer temperatures are (hopefully) sticking around. After a cold and snowy winter, it's safe to say that students are ready for fresh air and time outside with their peers! To ensure students can get outside and stay safe, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has guidance written on outdoor recess:
Outdoor recess should follow standard masking and distancing requirements. If students are masked, they must maintain at least 3 feet of distance from each other. If they are not wearing masks (i.e. if schools are using this time as a mask break), they must maintain at least 6 feet of distance. Cohorts should be maintained if possible, but they are not required.
In accordance with CDC guidance, playgrounds generally require normal routine cleaning but do not require disinfection. High touch surfaces made of plastic or metal, including grab bars, railings, tables, and benches, should be frequently cleaned. Cleaning and disinfection of wooden surfaces or groundcovers (mulch or sand) is not recommended. If shared items such as balls or jump ropes are used, they should be cleaned between each use. Additionally, students should wash or sanitize their hands before and after recess.
April Showers bring May Flowers and School Gardens!
Spring has Sprung! According to the 2018 Massachusetts School Health Profiles, more than 40 percent of middle and high school students have planted a school garden. Gardens are a great way for students to learn about how their food grows and is harvested, and provide an interactive, hands-on approach to education.
There are many benefits of a school garden. Not all children have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and as a result, can be reluctant to consume fresh produce due to limited exposure. School gardens allow for all students to work together to plant and oversee the growth of fresh produce of their choice. When students are invested in the harvest of fresh produce, they understand the process and are more likely to consume the fruits (or vegetables) of their labor!
Looking for ways to start a school garden? Check out the grant funding opportunity below:
New England Dairy Grant Funding and Upcoming Events
New England Dairy and the dairy farm families of MA invite schools to apply for funding through Fuel Up to Play 60. Up to $4,000 per year is available for K-12 schools enrolled in Fuel Up to Play 60, and these funds can be used to help kick-start healthy changes. All grant applications are due by Wednesday, April 28th.
A second funding opportunity is available from MA Dairy Farmers to eligible schools in MA to support food service needs related to expanding school meal programs or serving new dairy menu items with current or new school meals programs. Check out New England Dairy for more details on this funding opportunity. Applications must be received by April 23, 2021.
New England Dairy is hosting its first ever Farm to Family Night event on 4/22/2021 from 5:00 to 5:45PM. All families with children in grades K-5 are invited to participate. The evening will include butter making, a dairy farm tour, dairy trivia, physical activity and a grilled cheese cook along. To register, click here or visit www.newenglanddairy.com/from-farm-to-family-virtual-event.
Chill Out with Cold Milk Webinar & Toolkit. Drinking milk with school meals helps students get more key nutrients into their diets. Unfortunately, according to our recent consumer research, many students perceive school milk to be of lower quality than the milk they drink at home. Register for the Chill Out with Cold Milk Webinar on May 11thfrom 2-3pm to learn about milk’s nutrients, where it comes from, and how to keep it tasting its best at school! Registrants from CT, MA, NH, RI, and VT will receive a Free Chill Out with Cold Milk Toolkit, and attendees will have two chances to win equipment to support cold milk at your school.
Visit NewEnglandDairy.com for more information and registration. This webinar is pending approval for 1 CEU from SNA and AND.
Massachusetts School Health Council Student Health Clubs
Health is on the forefront of everyone’s minds, and student health clubs are a great way to get students interested and engaged in current health topics. The clubs are for high school students and are a great activity that students can organize, lead or participate in. Students will learn about various wellness topics such as vaping, nutrition/food insecurity and social determinants of health.
The Massachusetts Health Council has collected organizational materials, draft lesson plans and activities that can be used to start a health club at school or augment an existing health club. The Health Club meetings and activities can be conducted in-person or remotely.
The Massachusetts Health Council serves as a resource for the high school student health clubs and can provide assistance obtaining guest speakers, stipends for school personnel to serve as the faculty advisor and certifying volunteer credit/hours for student leaders.
To learn more about the Student Health Clubs, view the Administrative Packet which contains necessary information for high school students and faculty.
School Wellness: It's Everyone's Job!
Creating a culture of health and wellness in schools is a collaborative effort, and we are all an important piece to the school wellness puzzle. Whether you're a new teacher to your district, a seasoned school nutrition director, or a parent looking to join your district's committee, the Nuts and Bolts of School Nutrition Continuation Series Wellness Training is for you! This online session will provide you with an overview of the local wellness policy, its history, policy requirements and how to assess a policy. The training also provides an update on exciting MA School Wellness Initiatives, including a brand new website, that are coming soon!
This institution is an equal opportunity employer.