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States Move to Support Teachers through Employee Wellness Programs


Alexandria, VA — Healthy educators are more productive, less likely to be absent, and better equipped to support student development when they themselves are mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally well. By creating opportunities and infrastructure for employee wellness programs, state boards of education and other policymakers can foster the physical and emotional well-being of teachers and school leaders.

A new policy update from NASBE that draws on its State Policy Database on School Health shows that 12 states have policies to address at least one of the ten aspects of employee wellness outlined in the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child framework. Three of these states—Mississippi, Rhode Island, and Nevada—address educator wellness more fully.

Mississippi offers a comprehensive wellness program for all state employees who participate in the school employee health insurance plan. The state’s school accountability standards and the Mississippi Healthy Students Act further require that each local school board establish a local school wellness policy consistent with regulations adopted by the state board.

Rhode Island policy requires school districts to have staff wellness programs that include substance abuse prevention, health assessments, and physical activity opportunities. The state board further requires a school committee to be responsible for the care, control, and management of student and employee health and wellness. The state also includes teacher chronic absenteeism as an indicator of school success in its plan to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Nevada’s Division of Public and Behavioral Health has created a wellness toolkit to help implement staff wellness programs, which offer tobacco cessation, tobacco-free and breastfeeding-friendly environments, healthy food choices, and physical activity opportunities in public buildings, including schools. The Nevada State Board of Education has also prioritized their policymaking efforts around systems that “promote healthy staff and students.”

NASBE’s analysis offers several actions state boards can take to promote school employees’ well-being, including leveraging ESSA funds for wellness program implementation, encouraging partnerships between education and health agencies and other stakeholders to address employee wellness in more integrated, efficient ways, and issuing nonregulatory guidance and other resources to support districts as they build wellness programs.

“In the past, school policies to address disease prevention and health promotion have focused solely on students,” writes author Michelle Faggert. “As the adults with the greatest school-based impact of students, teachers can be powerful role models for maintaining healthy behaviors and lifestyles. State boards can actively support creating employee wellness programs to support the nation’s teachers and thereby support students as well.”

Read and share Supporting Educators through Employee Wellness Initiatives.

For 60 years, NASBE has served as the only membership organization for state boards of education. A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, NASBE elevates state board members’ voices in national and state policymaking, facilitates the exchange of informed ideas, and supports members in advancing equity and excellence in public education for students of all races, genders, and circumstances. Learn more at www.nasbe.org.

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