by Brianna Crandall — July 5, 2021 — As school districts across the U.S. plan and prepare for the 2021-2022 academic year, the International WELL Building Institute’s (IWBI) WELL Health-Safety Rating is helping school leaders to ensure that all students, teachers and staff are able to return to safe, full-time, in-person learning.
Rachel Hodgdon, president and CEO, IWBI, stated:
Right now, school leaders are working around the clock to plan for a successful and safe return to in-person learning. The WELL Health-Safety Rating is designed to empower school leaders by providing a seamless experience backed by evidence-based solutions as well as third-party verification. Every student, teacher, staff member and parent deserve the confidence of knowing that when they enter their school building, stringent health and safety protocols built on science have been followed.
Launched in July 2020, the WELL Health-Safety Rating was developed with recommendations from nearly 600 experts across public health, medicine, design, real estate, government and academia. It brings together building expertise and nearly a decade of health and building science to promote indoor safety and health across all building types. Its applicability and urgent need within schools has been quickly recognized, with school and district leaders from across the country leveraging the program.
How WELL supports school leaders
The WELL Health-Safety Rating speaks to a range of acute health threats through facilities management (FM) and operations strategies to help school leaders meet immediate Covid-19 needs and to prioritize the long-term health and safety of students, staff, visitors and stakeholders. The rating provides an efficient and cost-effective solution for school leaders that guides, validates, recognizes and scales efforts to manage critical health and safety issues in shared spaces.
The WELL Health-Safety Rating addresses air and water quality management, cleaning and sanitation procedures, emergency preparedness, health service resources and stakeholder engagement and communication.
Fairfax County, Virginia, and its 198 school buildings and 21 administrative buildings, and all six buildings within the Upper St. Clair School District located in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania region, are the first districts in the U.S. to achieve the WELL Health-Safety Rating.
Dr. John Rozzo, superintendent of Upper St. Clair schools, remarked:
The health and safety of our students and staff, as well as others who use our school facilities, remains a top priority for our district. The WELL Health-Safety seal is further testament that we are sincere in our efforts to go above and beyond to provide the safest environment possible for teaching and learning.
Currently, there are 336 school buildings across K12 and higher education that are enrolled in the program, including several districts in Ohio: Orrville, South East Local, Rittman and Hawken School. The Mayfield Junior School in Pasadena, California, is also working toward achieving the rating. It is anticipated that all enrolled school buildings will be WELL Health-Safety Rated when they reopen this fall.
Local Orrville business owner Bob Serpentini of Serpentini Chevrolet Buick, who made enrollment in the WELL Health-Safety Rating possible for Orrville City Schools, commented:
We really wanted to make a contribution to the District that had a direct impact on the students, staff and teachers there and ensured their safety was top of mind following the year we all just experienced. These students are the future of Orrville, and an investment in their health and safety is an investment in our community. In Orrville, we are ALL Red Riders!
The intuitive and comprehensive rating system provides school leaders with the tools and resources they need to independently verify their buildings over the summer months so they are ready for in-person learning at the start of the new school year.
School leaders have a lot to think about right now. They are in a race to address the ongoing challenges brought on by Covid-19 before the school year starts, and they need a turnkey, efficient and cost-effective roadmap to address these pressing challenges holistically and comprehensively. Because it’s built on the science and ground-tested across more than two billion square feet of space, the WELL Health-Safety Rating can help school leaders reopen with confidence.
For more information about the WELL Health-Safety Rating, visit the IWBI website.