Healthy Schools Certification General FAQ | Ophea.net

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Healthy Schools Certification General FAQ

Healthy Schools Certification

  1. Why is the Healthy Schools Approach important?
  2. What is Healthy Schools Certification?
  3. Why can participating schools select more than one health topic?
  4. How can my school become certified?
  5. Can any school apply to be certified?
  6. Can both elementary and secondary schools participate in Healthy Schools Certification?

Registering and Accessing the Online Dashboard for Healthy Schools Certification

  1. How do I register my school?
  2. Who can register my school?
  3. How do I confirm that my school was successfully registered?
  4. Once I’m registered, how do I access the online dashboard?
  5. Can I add others to the online dashboard so that they have access to add things, too?
  6. Where can I find an accessible version of the Guidebook?
  7. Does it cost any money to participate in Healthy Schools Certification?

Healthy Schools Lead

  1. Who should be the Healthy Schools Lead?
  2. What’s the time commitment for the Healthy Schools Lead?

Certification

  1. What are the reporting requirements for a school to become certified?
  2. How are students engaged in Healthy Schools Certification?
  3. What is the timeline for Healthy Schools Certification? Do you need to be recertified every year?

Support for Schools

  1. How does Ophea support schools that want to be certified?

Funding

  1. Does Healthy Schools Certification provide funding to schools?

How Can I Get Involved in Healthy Schools Certification?

  1. Are you a school staff?
  2. Are you a student?
  3. Are you a parent/family member?
  4. Are you a public health staff member?
  5. Are you a community partner?

Healthy Schools Certification

Why is the Healthy Schools Approach important?

The Healthy Schools Approach brings staff, students, parents/family members, and the community together to impact the health of everyone in the school. The Healthy Schools Approach motivates and supports school communities in establishing healthy, safe, and inclusive learning environments where all students can reach their full potential, all while supporting school board and provincial level policies (e.g., Board Improvement Plans).

Watch the Healthy Schools Professional Development Videos for a brief overview of the Healthy Schools Approach.

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What is Healthy Schools Certification?

Healthy Schools Certification is based on the 4-Step Healthy Schools Process, inspired by the Canadian Healthy School Standards, Canada’s Comprehensive School Health Framework, and Ontario’s Foundations for a Healthy School. Certification is based on a school’s ability to follow and complete the process, and not on the type or number of activities completed.

These are the 4 steps of the Healthy Schools Process:

  • Step 1: Assemble Your Team
  • Step 2: Identify Your School Community Priorities, Assets, and Health Topic(s)
  • Step 3: Develop Your Plan and Take Action
  • Step 4: Celebrate and Reflect

Through the HSC process, schools will plan and carry out activities that address their school community needs and priorities. Through a point-based system, schools will be able to report on their Healthy Schools Process steps online and apply for Gold, Silver, or Bronze Healthy Schools certification. Healthy Schools Certification is an annual process that reflects the reality of each unique school year.

Teams can focus their efforts on as many as three health topics that include:

  • Mental Health
  • Physical Activity
  • Healthy Eating
  • Injury Prevention
  • Growth and Development
  • Substance Use

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Why can participating schools select more than one health topic?

Allowing schools to select up to three health topics recognizes that a school’s priorities and assets can lend themselves to multiple health topics. As well, many activities address more than one health topic. However, it is important to note that points are not assigned to the number of health topics chosen (e.g., a school that chooses three health topics will not receive more points than a school that chooses one).

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How can my school become certified?

Healthy Schools Certification has been developed using a point-based system aligned with the 4-Step Healthy Schools Process. Participating schools need to register before the November 26th deadline and will then follow the 4-Step Healthy Schools Process to complete activities over the course of the school year. During the year, they will plan and track their progress through their online dashboard. In May, schools can then apply to be certified as a Gold, Silver, or Bronze Healthy School. See the Guidebook for full details.

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Can any school apply to be certified?

All schools within Ontario can participate in Healthy Schools Certification. This includes English and French-language public school boards, English and French-language Catholic school boards, and private and independent schools.

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Can both elementary and secondary schools participate in Healthy Schools Certification?

Yes, both elementary and secondary schools can participate in Healthy Schools Certification. All schools within Ontario can participate. This includes English and French-language public school boards, English and French-language Catholic school boards, and private and independent schools.

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Registering and Accessing the Online Dashboard for Healthy Schools Certification

How do I register my school?

On or after Tuesday, September 7, 2021, at 12 p.m. (noon) ET go to www.ophea.net/HSCertification, click the blue “Register” button on the top-right corner of the page, and follow the prompts online to register. Before you go to register, check out the registration information to ensure you have everything ready to submit. If you don’t already have an Ophea.net account, you’ll need to create one first—it’s free and easy! Click here to create your Ophea.net account.

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Who can register my school?

Only a current school staff member can register their school.

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How do I confirm that my school was successfully registered?

When you have completed the registration process, you’ll receive a pop-up message indicating that you have successfully registered. You will also receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to get to your personalized online dashboard. Important: You will also receive an email confirmation when you create an Ophea.net account. This email is NOT confirmation of registration for Healthy Schools Certification.

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Once I’m registered, how do I access the online dashboard?

First thing’s first—you need to log in to your Ophea.net account. Once you’ve done that, you can go to www.ophea.net/HSCertification and you should see a blue “Dashboard” button on the top-right of your screen. Click on that button, and you’ll be directed to your personalized online dashboard. If you aren’t signed into your Ophea.net account, you won’t see the “Dashboard” button, so make sure to do that first!

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Can I add others to the online dashboard so that they have access to add things, too?

To ensure consistency in the information that’s uploaded to the online dashboard, and for privacy of sensitive information, Healthy Schools Certification relies on having a single Healthy Schools Lead who registers their school and reports on their progress. This means that only the person who registered the school can access the online dashboard, as that online dashboard is linked to their personal Ophea.net account and their account only. We are always looking into other options to allow more than one person to access or view the online dashboard. But right now, due to many factors (privacy being one), it's limited to one user per school.

That being said, we are always looking into other options whereby more than one person may be able to access or at least view the dashboard. But right now, due to many factors (privacy being one, not having information deleted or altered inadvertently is another), it's limited to one user per school.

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Where can I find an accessible version of the Guidebook?

An accessible version of the Guidebook can be accessed from your online dashboard or by contacting us at healthyschools@ophea.net.

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Does it cost any money to participate in Healthy Schools Certification?

Healthy Schools Certification is free for all publicly funded schools.

There is a fee of $500.00 CAD each year for private and independent schools participating in Healthy Schools Certification. If you are a private or independent school that’s considering Healthy Schools Certification, click here to learn about the registration process!

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Healthy Schools Lead

Who should be the Healthy Schools Lead?

The Healthy Schools Lead is a staff member of the school who champions Healthy Schools in their community and serves as a key contact for Healthy Schools Certification. The Healthy Schools Lead does not need to be an expert with the Healthy Schools Approach: in fact, they may be new to Healthy Schools and have an interest in promoting health and well-being in their school community. This position is decided by the school, not by Ophea. In most instances, the lead will be a teacher from the school, but they may also be a different staff member, such as an early childhood educator, guidance counsellor, or an administrator.

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What’s the time commitment for the Healthy Schools Lead

The Healthy Schools Lead will be the key contact for Healthy Schools Certification for the school year. There is no specific time commitment for each Healthy Schools Lead, but the expectation would be that they would use the Guidebook/School Dashboard to work with their team to lead activities and report back to Ophea. The Healthy Schools Approach is about collaboration, which means that even though the Healthy Schools Lead is the main link between Ophea and their school, it doesn’t mean that they do all the work. Instead, Healthy Schools is about working with other school staff, parents/family members, public health, and community partners to share the responsibilities. Also, at the heart of the Healthy Schools Approach is student engagement, meaning students should be leading as much as they can.

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Certification

What are the reporting requirements for a school to become certified?

Reporting requirements to earn points toward certification vary across each process step. In some instances, school teams are only required to provide basic information (e.g., “Yes” or “No” answers) to earn points while, in other cases, additional information is required to demonstrate your work.

Refer to the Guidebook for points breakdown and Reporting Requirements.

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How are students engaged in Healthy Schools Certification?

Student engagement is an important component of Healthy Schools Certification. This means that students are part of the team, help choose the school’s health topic(s), and plan and lead activities (at both the elementary and secondary levels). The degree to which students are engaged depends on the school, with the hope that student involvement moves from participation to leadership (at all grades).

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What is the timeline for Healthy Schools Certification? Do you need to be recertified every year?

Healthy Schools Certification is an annual process. Schools will need to reapply on an annual basis as the certification is a result of each unique school year. School certification levels will be announced in late May/early June of each year.

Key dates to remember:

  • Friday, November 26, 2021, at 12:00 p.m. (noon) ET: Deadline to register
  • Friday, May 6, 2022, at 12:00 p.m. (noon) ET: Final deadline for certification (to report on Steps 1 to 4)

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Support for Schools

How does Ophea support schools that want to be certified?

Ophea has developed a series of support tools that are available to schools registered for Healthy Schools Certification. Ophea will also provide schools participating in Healthy Schools Certification with training and consultation support on an ongoing basis.

Support tools can be accessed by registered schools from the online dashboard. Ophea’s Healthy Schools Certification Team is available year-round by email as an additional support to schools: healthyschools@ophea.net.

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Funding

Does Healthy Schools Certification provide funding to schools?

No, Healthy Schools Certification will not provide funding to schools during the 2021/22 school year.

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How Can I Get Involved in Healthy Schools Certification?

Are you a school staff?

Educators, including teachers, administrators, and support staff, are the backbone of any school team. As staff of the school, they have a solid understanding of school and board objectives, as well as an appreciation of the diversity of the students and school community. Educators are involved in all stages of the Healthy Schools Process. The more educators are able to contribute, the more your team will be able to accomplish, and the more students will want to be involved.

The Healthy Schools Lead is a staff member at the school who agrees to facilitate the team and act as the main contact for the Healthy Schools Certification program. The Healthy Schools Lead does not need to be an expert with the Healthy Schools Approach: in fact, they may be new to Healthy Schools and have an interest in promoting health and well-being in their school community.

Administrators, including principals and vice-principals, are the “community builder(s) who create(s) a healthy and safe school environment that is welcoming to all, and who ensure(s) that all members of the school community are kept well informed.”1 For a school to be successful in the Healthy Schools Approach, it needs the support of the administration.

If you are an educator who wants your school to participate in Healthy Schools Certification and you are ready to act as the Healthy Schools Lead, click here to register your school.

OR

If you are an educator who wants your school to participate in Healthy Schools Certification, but are not the Healthy Schools Lead, share the Guidebook with your school administrator to figure out who might be the best staff member to act as the Healthy Schools Lead.

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Are you a student?

Student involvement is an important part of the Healthy Schools Approach and all students can make their school a healthy school. Students can contribute to a healthy school by identifying what matters to them and what they like to do and contributing to or leading activities (based on their abilities). Students may even take on more of a leadership role, planning and running activities and engaging community partners. If you are a student who wants your school to participate in Healthy Schools Certification, talk to your teacher, a parent/family member, or a staff member at your school!

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Are you a parent/family member?

Parents, guardians, caregivers, and family members have a lot to offer a healthy school. Family engagement in the school team can ensure that the activities reflect the community and that the health and well-being promoted in schools is reinforced in the home. Families may also have their own assets to share, such as time, skills, or volunteer connections.

If you are a parent or family member who wants your child’s school to participate in Healthy Schools Certification, talk to your child’s teacher or a staff member at your school!

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Are you a public health staff member?

Publicly funded schools in Ontario are supported by local public health units that often play a key role in supporting school communities in adopting the Healthy Schools Approach. Public health services and programs address a variety of health topics and promote the health and well-being of children and youth, and the school community.

If you are a public health staff member who wants your local school to participate in Healthy Schools Certification, talk to the school’s administration or a staff member!

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Are you a community partner?

Community partners play an important role in supporting Healthy Schools initiatives by providing their services, resources, and expertise as schools plan activities. Community partners include local businesses, not-for-profit organizations, feeder and neighbouring schools, recreation and sports groups, community safety services, community health centres, and municipalities. If you are a community partner who wants your local school to participate in Healthy Schools Certification, talk to the school’s administration or a staff member!

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1 Ministry of Education. (2019). The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1–8: Health and Physical Education, 17.