• The Southwestern

National Public Health Week: Education

Updated: Jun 25, 2020

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A lack of education is one of the social determinants of poor health. Factors like poverty and unsafe neighborhoods can stack the deck against children even before they enter the classroom because educational achievement is directly linked to socioeconomic status and community environment.

Twenty-one percent of children in the U.S. live in poverty. For black and Hispanic children, those numbers nearly triple (37.8% and 31.9%, respectively) those of white children (12.7%). More than a third of black, Hispanic and American Indian and Alaska Native students in the U.S. do not graduate from high school on time. When it comes to meeting the Healthy People 2020 graduation target of 82.4%, the gap between white students and black and Hispanic students is more than 10%. The number is even higher for American Indian/Alaska Native students.[2] Students who receive free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch at school have lower rates of absenteeism and obesity, and higher rates of food insecurity. Access to school-based health centers has a positive effect on schools’ learning climate.

Graduation from high school is linked to an increase in average lifespan for up to nine years. High school graduates have better health and lower medical costs than those who drop out. College graduates fare even better, health-wise.

Current distribution of economic resources to schools is based on property taxes. In neighborhoods and communities where property values are lower, schools see fewer resources. To introduce equity, resources should be distributed based on student needs.

Education & COVID-19

As with any illness, reliance on science-based information and response is key. Schools at all levels should be engaged in active surveillance and communicate with their state and local public health departments should a person display possible COVID-19 symptoms. Distance learning is now more necessary than ever, heightening the need for access to technology and high-speed internet. As schools are often the key source of daily nutrition for students in low-income families, school systems are now called on to find ways to distribute meals while maintaining social distancing.

Provided by NPHW.ORG

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