The Envision Program
Promoting Healthy School Environments

Envision Program

Poor indoor air quality in schools has been linked to decreased student and teacher performance, and increased absenteeism. Unhealthy air quality can result in acute symptoms such as eye, nose and throat irritation, headache, nausea, and lethargy, and chronic conditions such as asthma and allergy.

Envision—Promoting Healthy School Environments was created by the Legislature in 2000 as part of the School Environmental Health Act (Act 125) to address these issues by providing model environmental health management plans and guidance for schools.

The Envision program packet contains a model environmental health plan and policy, sample procedures, letters of support, and a resource guide.

The program is a joint effort by the Vermont Departments of Health, Buildings and General Services, and the Agency of Education, which work together to:

Contact Envision

The Envision program is based in the Department of Health. Questions or inquiries about the program, model plan, or technical assistance on a school environmental health issue should be directed to:

Envision Program
Vermont Department of Health
P.O. Box 70 , 108 Cherry Street
Burlington , VT 05402
Tel. 800-439-8550
Email: envision@state.vt.us

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Program Goal

Envision program symbol of school and leafThe goal of the Envision program is to assist schools in creating and implementing environmental health management plans. We do this by educating schools on environmental health issues, and providing a sustainable means to identify, prevent, and “problem-solve” potential environmental health and indoor air quality (IAQ) issues.

Act 125 calls for a set of minimum guidelines, which include, but are not limited to the following:

Assessment
Determining if environmental health problem(s) or potential problems exist in your school. Prioritizing them with respect to health risk to the general school population, ease of change and cost.
Address
Establishing a plan of action to mitigate or eliminate, to the extent possible, any existing environmental health problems. Create a method to manage health questions, concerns, complaints and incidents as they occur.
Prevention
Implementing strategies to avoid potential environmental health problems by reducing exposure to irritants and chemicals and maintaining and/or repairing equipment or structural issues that could lead to potential environmental health problems.
Promotion/Support
Promoting environmental health awareness through dissemination of information and involvement in environmental health programs. Supporting your environmental health plan by documenting and sharing your success with the school community.
Maintainability
Ensuring that your environmental health program is sustained by keeping documentation of all implemented and proposed plans and resolutions accessible to the public and by creating a means to review and update your program on a yearly basis.

Participation in Envision also will enable schools to utilize existing related programs to help create a comprehensive School Environmental Health Management Plan.

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Program Enrollment and Participation

Enrollment into the Envision program is voluntary. The legislation does not impose new mandates on schools.

The Envision program provides the following:

Envision Participation Survey

The Vermont Department of Health conducted a survey of Vermont's public schools to gauge the level of participation in the Envision Program and to learn about practices in schools that affect environmental health.

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How does the program work?

The Envision program was designed so schools could successfully bring about improvements and progress in their goal towards creating and maintaining a healthier school environment.

The first step is to identify members that will belong to the environmental health and safety committee. Members include an administrator, nurse, buildings / facilities worker, teacher, parent and student.

A school or school district becomes an Envision Partner when the core standards of the Envision Program are completed. The core standards include:

A school / district can further demonstrate exemplary progress in improving environmental health and indoor air quality by progressing in four environmental health areas. These environmental health areas include:

Progress in these areas makes the school / district eligible for the Envision Certificate of Achievement under the School Environmental Health Act 125. Any projects or programs a school is already involved in can be integrated into the Envision program, subject to approval from the Department of Health.

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Tools for implementing your School Environmental Health Management Plan

Act 125 and the model environmental health management plan were created utilizing the EPA’s IAQ Tools for Schools (IAQ TfS) action kit as its foundation. Therefore, most of the minimum guidelines called out by Act 125 already have a “tool” (e.g. pre-made checklists, model policies, memos, and letters) in the IAQ TfS action kit that can be utilized and/or modified as needed.

It is recommended that schools take advantage of the action kit to help them get started. There is a great deal of useful information on environmental health topics, pre-made checklists, suggestions, and sources of information. If your school does not have an IAQ TfS action kit or would like the new version please contact us for information on how to obtain a copy.

If you are interested in kit training:

Contact the Department of Health:
Tel. 1-800-430-8550
Email: envision@state.vt.us

Or contact the Environmental Protection Agency:

Eugene Benoit
Tools for Schools Program Coordinator
EPA Region 1 Office
benoit.eugene@epa.gov

You may also call the Customer Call Center at 1-888-372-7341.

All or portions of IAQ TfS may be downloaded from the EPA website

Schools may incorporate/combine existing programs and associated information with IAQ TfS.

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Roles and Responsibilities

It will take the combined efforts of many persons to implement and maintain a successful environmental health management plan and program. The following is a brief outline of the general roles and responsibilities of the persons involved.

Department of Health

School’s Environmental Health Committee

School Administration

School Board

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