The Whatcom County Health Department school safety staff works to provide a safe and health environment for children enrolled in primary and secondary schools throughout Whatcom County. Environmental Health staff members are involved in the following activities:
- Conducting two routine food service inspections at each school annually
- Providing technical assistance and consultation to school staff during illness outbreaks
- Responding to safety and health concerns from school staff and parents
- Providing resources and consultation to facility and maintenance staff regarding environmental health issues
- Conducting site approvals for new schools
- Providing construction plan reviews for new schools and schools in the process of remodeling
- Conducting occupancy inspections of new or remodeled schools
- Conducting playground safety inspections
Currently the Washington State Board of Health is revising the School Regulation Chapter 246-366 WAC: http://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Schools/EnvironmentalHealth.aspx
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do if I want to start a new school, build a
new school or remodel an existing school?
Contact our office at 360 676-6724 before you begin. State
law requires a number of review steps prior to approval including
site approval and approval of construction plans. HHS wants to
work with you to make certain that all of the reviews occur in
the correct order to save you both time and unnecessary expense.
Why can't I just build a small school anywhere I would like?
The Superintendent of Public Instruction must approve schools
seeking accreditation. We work in concert with them on the approval
process. If you wish to get approval we all need to work together
from the beginning of the project.
If I get my plans approved by the local buildings and codes
department why does the Health Department also have to review
and approve the plans?
People who operate schools must comply with some unique health
and safety rules. The building and codes department in your area
will look at the project for structural, plumbing, electrical,
and general mechanical requirements. The Health Department must
review how the school staff will use each classroom in the school
to assure a safe learning environment. This includes reviewing
the final finish materials like carpeting, looking for chemical
storage facilities in science sections, and reviewing the layout
and design of the vocational classrooms.
If I have a concern about school safety what should I do?
We suggest you contact the school and discuss the issue with
them first. If you need additional help, feel free to contact
our office. Many times, just meeting with the school officials
will solve the issue.
My child was hurt while playing on the play ground at school,
what should I do?
Our staff reviews these incidents. You should first report
the incident to the school so they can take immediate action to
assure that other children remain safe. You should also contact
our office. We can work with the school to help reduce the risks
of playground injuries.
My group wants to either purchase or build some new playground
equipment for the school. What should be do first?
Contact our office, our staff can get you started in the right
direction. All playground equipment presents some risks. Matching
the equipment to the age and development of the children reduces
the potential risk for injury. Little children who try to play
on equipment designed for 5th or 6th grade
kids may lack the physical development needed to use the equipment
Whatcom County Health Department
Environmental Health Section
Phone: (360) 676-6724
Back to Top