Feb. 24, 2021
Upper St. Clair earns WELL Health-Safety Rating
Upper St. Clair School District recently earned the WELL Health-Safety Rating for each of its six schools – marking the first district to reach this achievement worldwide.
The WELL Health-Safety Rating through the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) is an evidence-based, third-party verified rating for all new and existing building and space types focusing on operational policies, maintenance protocols, stakeholder engagement and emergency plans to address a post-COVID-19 environment now and into the future.
“The health and safety of our students and staff members as well as others who use our school facilities remain our top priority,” Dr. John Rozzo, superintendent of schools, said. “The WELL Health-Safety seal is further testament that we are sincere in our efforts to go above and beyond to provide the safest environment possible for teaching and learning.”
Designed to empower organizations to take the necessary steps to prioritize the health and safety of their staff, visitors and stakeholders, the WELL Health-Safety Rating can help guide users in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, instilling confidence in those who come through the building as well as the broader community.
“Our schools serve not only as learning environments for children, but also as workplaces for teachers and staff and as gathering spaces for communities,” said Rachel Hodgdon, IWBI president and CEO. “We applaud the Upper St. Clair School District for its leadership and commitment to evidence-based interventions that will help pave the way for schools everywhere that are navigating these pandemic times.”
In addition, the Upper St. Clair School District has developed a robust plan to renew the rating annually and achieve the rigorous criteria year after year.
“Our work to this point has ensured and validated that we have coordinated systems and intentional efforts across the district that are designed to improve the environment by making it the healthiest and safest for our students and staff,” Dr. Lou Angelo, director of operations and facilities, said. “We will continue to make the review and the assessment of products, practices, training and evaluation associated with our cleaning protocol, building systems, emergency preparedness and health services a primary focus of our program.”
In order to achieve the WELL Health-Safety Rating, Upper St. Clair School District validated current practices and improved upon others such as increasing the environmentally friendly cleaning products used.
“I am particularly excited to share our district’s movement toward preferred cleaning products and, specifically, the transition toward Green Seal Certified or recommended products,” Dr. Angelo said. “These products are proven safer for our school community and the environment.”
Upper St. Clair School District was awarded the WELL Health-Safety Rating following the successful completion of third-party documentation review to confirm it has met all requirements.
In pursuing the WELL Health-Safety Rating, Upper St. Clair partnered with Advantus Engineers, LLC, which is led by Alicia Avick. In addition to serving as president of the engineering company, Ms. Avick is a graduate of Upper St. Clair High School as well as a parent of two Upper St. Clair students.
“As an engineer, with so much invested in sustainable and healthy buildings, and as a parent, I was impressed with all the steps Upper St. Clair was taking to keep our children in their school buildings,” Ms. Avick said. “Teaming them with our highly experienced Director of Sustainability, Angelica Ciranni, to review and refine the great strides already being taken, validates those efforts and provides a science-based framework for moving forward.”
Launched in July 2020, the WELL Health-Safety Rating was developed with recommendations from nearly 600 experts across public health, medicine, design, real estate, government and academia. The rating is managed by the International WELL Building Institute, whose mission is to improve human health and well-being in buildings and communities across the world.
According to Dr. Angelo, a healthy and safe physical school environment promotes learning by ensuring the health and safety of students and staff.
“Our priority is to create an environment that optimizes learning and protects the health and wellbeing of students and staff,” Dr. Angelo said. “We will continue to do everything we can to ensure our community's schools are among the best - environmentally and educationally.”