The comprehensive school health (CSH) framework is Alberta’s roadmap for school health. It's often referred to as a whole school approach because it touches on all aspects of school life.
CSH has been used for generations to guide school health in a way that's coordinated and reinforcing. It goes beyond one-time activities like wellness fairs or invited speakers, and helps us focus on improvements that are meaningful, effective, and likely to last.
CSH can provide stability and balance as we adapt to new realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. It's a framework for prioritizing school wellness across four components:
Social and physical environments
Social environments shape how students feel at school. They include:
- Positive relationships between students, their peers, and school staff (including virtual relationships!)
- Ways of welcoming and including all students within a classroom or learning cohort, and promoting belonging (even if we can't interact in ways we're used to)
- Opportunities for students to be full and equal partners in decision-making about their school experience
Physical environments are spaces for learning, movement, and play. They include:
Indoor spaces like classrooms, hallways, gymnasiums, cafeterias, and learning commons
Outdoor spaces like playgrounds, fields, outdoor classrooms, gardens, and pathways
Equipment and materials like furniture, kitchen appliances, lighting, and ventilation
Teaching and learning
Teaching and learning involves the ways that both students and staff learn and practice health at school. It includes:
- Curriculum-based instruction and activities to develop, strengthen, and practice skills (including both in-person and virtual teaching)
- Informal instruction that happens outside of traditional learning spaces, like through online social experiences, hallway or recess conversations, or extracurricular activities
- Training for pre-service teachers and ongoing professional learning for school staff, including virtual and in-person workshops, presentations, webinars, mentorships, and collaboratives
Did you know? Alberta Health Services offers a variety of professional learning opportunities for teachers and school staff.
To learn more, visit training for educators.
Policies are written directives that influence school life. They include:
- Policies and standards set by Alberta Education, like the Daily Physical Activity Policy, Human Sexuality Education Policy, and Ministerial Order on Student Learning
- Board policies, administrative procedures, and regulations set by school authorities
- Multi-year education plans or frameworks developed by school authorities
- Annual development plans in schools
- Student codes of conduct
For professional advice on healthy school policy in your school authority or school, connect with your local AHS Health Promotion Facilitator.
Partnerships and services
Partnerships are connections and relationships between schools and communities, like:
- Parents, caregivers, and other family members
- Community organizations and groups
- Elders and other community champions
- Local facilities like recreation centres, libraries, and parks
Services are supports offered by health professionals or social service providers in collaboration with schools, like:
- Immunization programs for students
- Public health inspections
- Teacher training in school health promotion
- School health information, resources, and coaching
During the COVID-19 pandemic, partnerships and services in schools may look and feel a little different. For example, there may be less opportunity for in-person connections, and new enthusiasm and infrastructure for virtual sharing, collaboration, and innovation.
What is comprehensive school health?
Boost student success with comprehensive school health
Alberta Health Services
Ten facts on CSH and 21st century learning
Joint Consortium for School Health