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How to keep school safe and healthy
February 1, 2024

By Eleanor Ellen Healthy Roar reporters | There are many ways Emlen Elementary School helps students stay mentally and physically safe, School Counselor Ms. Seltzer told the Healthy Roar staff recently.

When the reporters looked around the school, they identified many examples. Students practice fire drills. They can visit the school nurse. And go to the school counselor to take deep breaths and calm down.

Every morning in the schoolyard, Principal Thomas or Ms. Costello, Emlen’s technology coordinator, reviews the “5 B’s.” They are:

  1. Be respectful
  2. Be responsible
  3. Be peaceful
  4. Be a problem-solver
  5. Be a buddy, not a bully 

Because students spend about 1,000 hours a year in school, they need to feel socially, emotionally, and physically safe in that environment, says The National School Climate Center. The center is an organization that gives ideas on how schools can be mentally and physically safe places.

Schools can build a positive school climate, which plays an important role in students’ mental health, according to the center.

Ms. Seltzer said students can stay mentally healthy by speaking to an adult if they’re having a problem or feeling sad. If you’re feeling sad, you can go to her office to talk about it. “If you ever feel mentally or physically sad or hurt, you can always come to my office to talk about it,” Ms. Seltzer said.

Along with being mentally healthy, Ms. Seltzer encouraged reporters to eat healthy foods and snacks. Too often, she said, she observes that “students are eating Takis, candy, chewy stuff, and snacks with lots of sugar.” Instead, pick snacks that are healthier, such as bananas or apple chips, she advised.

Emlen also provides several ways for students to exercise. They have gym class once a week, recess daily, and the opportunity to join after-school groups like “Boys on the Run” and “Girls on the Run.”

At the end of every school day, Ms. Seltzer reminds students on the afternoon announcements to “go straight home and walk home safely.”

If you ever need help, there are many adults in the school that can help you, Ms. Seltzer said.

Illustration by Malaysia, fourth grade, Eleanor Emlen Healthy Roar, 2023–24.

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Since 2003, Healthy NewsWorks has been empowering elementary and middle school students to become researchers, writers, and confident communicators who advance health understanding and literacy through their factual publications and digital media.

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