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Back to School, Back Together: A healthy start for the 2021 school year

Summer will soon be coming to a close, and communities will be transitioning to in-person, back-to-school learning before you know it. This school year will look different than in years past, which means districts, schools, staff, teachers, students, and parents need support to make the transition back to in-person learning as smooth as possible.

Kaiser Permanente Thriving Schools and the National School Health Collaborative are here to put health at the center of education so that we can get back to school and back together, for a healthy start to the school year, all while providing school communities with the support they need.

Our Back to School, Back Together campaign includes a collection of resources for schools and districts to support them in building greater health and well-being throughout the 2021 to 2022 academic year.

The latest version of the Planning for the Next Normal at School playbook

This comprehensive guide, created in collaboration with more than 30 nationally recognized and trusted school health organizations, provides a framework to understand, assess, and implement strategies for COVID-19 prevention; social drivers of health; physical activity, physical education, and health education; staff and teacher well-being; mental health and well-being; and family well-being.

The latest version of the playbook has been streamlined to provide an introduction and actionable checklist for each topic, along with updated links to resources offered by our school health partners. We also provide short Q&A videos with the authors of each chapter who provide an overview of their “starter plays” and associated resources.

Information to support COVID-19 vaccination and recommended immunizations

Protecting students from COVID-19 will undoubtedly be one of the biggest ongoing goals and challenges of the school year. Scientific research has proven the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccination in preventing infection and spread of the disease. The resources below provide school communities with guidance on how to advocate for every student to be protected.

Additional resources from Kaiser Permanente and partner organizations

Our goal is to equip school communities with access to the support they need to have the healthiest school year possible. Check out these offerings:

  • Thriving Schools website – Our newly refreshed site intuitively walks visitors through Thriving Schools’ integrated approach to school health, focusing on 4 dimensions of health: physical health, mental health, social health, and equity. The new searchable library contains resources, reports, and programming from Kaiser Permanente and trusted organizations that share an aligned understanding of the many dimensions affecting health in schools.
  • Ready, Set, RISE e-learning modules – This e-learning curriculum developed by Kaiser Permanente, Discovery Education, and Alliance for a Healthier Generation, explains how to implement trauma-informed practices at school using 4 self-paced modules for educators and administrators. Access all of the information needed to plan, implement, and sustain collective care and well-being at school.
  • Back-to-school guides – The more connected staff, students, and families feel to their school environment, the more likely they are to find success. Now more than ever it is critical that educators use community-building activities to foster positive relationships. These guides, developed by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, are grab-and-go resources any educator can use to cocreate a caring, supportive in-person and/or virtual school environment.
  • Advancing Student and Staff Health With COVID-19 Relief Funding — This guide was developed by Kaiser Permanente, Healthy Schools Campaign, and FutureEd to support schools and districts in the allocation of COVID-19 relief funds to build healthier school communities.
  • Toolkit for Responding to COVID-19 Cases — Developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this set of resources helps school administrators prepare to respond quickly when someone with COVID-19 has been in the school or at a school event.

More to come

These additional resources will be made available in August and September, so be sure to check back in with us and see what’s new:

  • The Thriving Schools Integrated Assessment — an evidence-based self-assessment tool to support districts and schools in identifying strengths and opportunities for improvement in school well-being.
  • Health Views with Dr. Deb Friesen — Annie Reed, national director of Kaiser Permanente Thriving Schools joins Deb Friesen, MD, for a forthcoming episode of her podcast.

The 2021 to 2022 school year will likely be one to remember. We are here to accompany you and your school community through these times of change. Together we can overcome challenges and make it a year of success and progress.

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