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Back to School 2023: Healthy and Ready for the Year

Most students not-so-secretly love summer. But imagine if all kids couldn’t wait to go back to school — to return to a place where they’re surrounded by friends, teachers who inspire them, and other school staff they can depend on. A place where they’ll not only learn ABCs and history but also real-life skills they can use as adults. They can’t wait to get back to people who support their physical and mental health. A place where they feel healthy and ready to learn.

Then, imagine teachers and staff, tasked with doing one of the most important jobs we have, feeling rested and eager to get back into their classrooms. They’re excited to share their knowledge. More importantly, they can’t wait to empower their students to feel their best and seize their moments. They want every child to be prepped and ready for success. But they also know they’re returning to a place that supports their own physical and mental health. A place where they feel healthy and ready to educate.

This school year, Kaiser Permanente doesn’t want you to have to use your imagination. We want healthy schools to be everyone’s reality. Unfortunately, there are some challenges standing in the way of that vision. Challenges we’re committed to addressing.

The challenges schools face

You may have heard recently that more than half of U.S. teen girls felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021. But did you know that more than 2 out of every 5 teachers said their teaching and professional growth had suffered due to the state of their mental health?

Did you know that since the start of the pandemic, attendance rates have dropped? Students who are chronically absent (more than 18 days per school year) any year between eighth and 12th grade are over 7 times more likely to drop out. Adding to that, many schools (1 in every 4) don’t have a school nurse on staff.

These numbers don’t have to be the story. Healthier schools are achievable if we all work together.

Making healthier schools a reality

Healthy schools recognize and advance the mental, physical, social, and emotional well-being of students and staff. They do this as a fundamental strategy to effective learning. Healthy schools also prioritize creating and sustaining systems, policies, practices, and facilities that promote health, safety, and equity.

At Kaiser Permanente, we’re doing our part to help create and foster healthy schools. We do this by sharing no-cost resources, ongoing guidance and tools, and real-time consultative support on pressing issues at the intersection of health and education. We focus on schools across the country, not only in the regions we serve. Our teams work side by side with schools, districts, national and regional partners, and communities to help provide what’s needed to improve well-being and ensure a better tomorrow.

The outcomes are clear. When our students and teachers have the supports they need to do well, they show up and thrive. And when that happens, students experience better connections, fewer disciplinary issues, improved brain development, increased focus, and better communication. They gain skills they need to succeed in life.

This school year, help us make sure everyone is healthy & ready. We’ll all be better because of it.

Take advantage of some of our 2023 Healthy and Ready back-to-school support for student and staff well-being resources today:

  • Filling Your Cup: Comprehensive Self-Care Strategies Curriculum — This on-demand training series helps school staff focus on their own well-being. (To access this resource, you’ll have to set up a no-cost Action Center account with Alliance for a Healthier Generation, one of our national partners.)
  • Employee burnout guide — This guide provides employers steps for creating a psychologically safe work culture for all employees.
  • Presence of Mind — These online interactive training series videos offer tools to help youth manage their mental health and well-being.
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