“The Health and Safety of Your Child at School” is the fifth chapter of the English Learner Family Toolkit, which is meant to support families of English learners (ELs) in the U.S. education system. Each chapter has five parts: (1) Overview, (2) Family and Student Rights, (3) Suggested Questions to Ask School Staff, (4) Tips for Families, and (5) Resources. Information in each chapter varies. As readers can choose to access only certain chapters of the toolkit, it is important to note that some information may be repeated in multiple chapters.
It may be difficult for children to learn when they are hungry, sick, or scared. Schools not only teach your children, but they also ensure children are healthy and safe.
Your child deserves to feel safe at home and at school. Your child’s school may have rules about bullying and procedures for what to do in an emergency (such as a fire, an earthquake, a tornado, or an active shooter).60 Many schools also have school bus cameras or monitors to keep your child safe. If your child feels unsafe on the bus or in school, speak to school staff about the problem.
A healthy diet is important for your child. Schools may serve healthy meals to students, and some schools have a menu of what will be served. Tell your child’s teacher or school staff if he or she has food allergies or special nutritional needs, as your child may have protections under disability law.61 Tell the school if your child needs to fast or eat different foods for religious holidays. If you cannot afford school meals for your child, let the school staff know. Your child may be eligible for reduced-price or free meals.
There may be days when your child is sick and cannot go to school. School staff usually ask families to inform them when a child is sick and needs to miss school. Ask school staff whom to contact when your child is sick. Some schools may have a school nurse or a school health-care aide who can give medications if your child needs them during the school day and help you find health clinics if your child needs medical care.
60 Bullying is described by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a repeated, aggressive action from a student(s) with power to a student(s) with less power. Physical harm, threats, verbal abuse, or exclusion from a group are all examples of bullying. Bullying can happen in school, on the playground, on the bus, in your neighborhood, or online (called cyberbullying). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services gives tips, warning signs, and resources here: https://www.stopbullying.gov/what-is-bullying/index.html.
61 For example, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) is a federal civil rights law that prohibits disability discrimination by recipients of federal financial assistance, such as public schools and school districts. For more information, visit https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/disabilityoverview.html.