Student Wellness Council
In December 2015, FUHSD Superintendent Polly Bove introduced a plan to involve interested members of the community as part of a Community Council on Student Wellness. The council would be established to initiate an exploration of ways in which the school community could begin to address persistent concerns regarding student stress and sleep deprivation directly impacting the achievement and experience of students in our schools.
The formation of the taskforce was motivated by a number of factors. For a number of years, several schools in the district had been involved in Stanford University’s “Challenge Success” program which had specifically identified school factors contributing to increased stress and reduced sleep levels for students along with strategies and approaches to address these issues. Other survey evidence from FUHSD schools also emphasized concerns about student stress, sleep deprivation and school-life balance. Additionally, the district was approached by a group of parents who were interested in moving schools to later start times as a solution to sleep and stress issues.
The Community Wellness Council was formed in January 2016. To initiate the work of the council, district staff developed a focus for action that was labeled the “defined problem” as the summation of concerns about student wellness issues related to sleep, stress, and balancing school and personal/family life: “Students struggle with wellness, school-life balance and stress, and sleep deprivation.” The council was also charged with responsibility for reviewing other priority student health issues including nutrition and mental health.
FUHSD embarks on this current effort to explore student social and emotional health with the following core beliefs:
- We believe we have an imperative to continue this work by building on our longstanding efforts to develop resources and partnerships in support of student social and emotional health.
- We strongly believe that student social and emotional health cannot be addressed by schools alone. Schools can do a lot, but if families and the larger community are not part of the solution, school level efforts can be a wasted investment.
- Any approach at the district or school level will need to be systemic; no one role/person in the system can be responsible for students’ social and emotional health AND persons in all roles must understand how they can influence or undermine students’ social and emotional health.
- Challenges to social and emotional health come from many sources including, peer and family relationships, academic stress, doubts/questions about personal identity, societal pressures, socio-economic status.
- We strongly believe that any exploration of this topic must take into consideration and be sensitive to, the cultural diversity - and differing cultural norms and values - in our community.
- We believe, and research supports the idea that, strong social and emotional health benefits academic performance. Efforts to strengthen social and emotional health are an aide to, not a distraction from, academic success.