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School-Based Health Centers to open this fall, available for vaccinations and other services

Summary

Health centers will open on 34 school campuses in King County this September, to provide health services for students – including flu shots and other vaccines – even when the instruction is online.

Story

Health Centers will be open at 34 schools this September, during COVID-19 pandemic

Even though most schools are starting with online learning this fall, more than 30 campuses will be open for in-person health-care services.

They have School-Based Health Centers that offer routine primary care, including vaccinations, as well as mental health counseling. Several even have dental services. Seasonal flu vaccine will also be available.

The health centers serve any student enrolled in the participating school districts. They operate at 27 Seattle Public Schools, including all high schools and middle schools, along with a number of elementary schools. Five additional centers serve students in the Bellevue, Highline, Renton, and Vashon school districts. The centers are independent clinics based inside schools or on school campuses, staffed by health professionals.

Two new centers will be opening this fall, at Lowell Elementary and at Nova High School in Seattle.

The need for basic health-care hasn't gone away just because students are learning from home. In fact, many families may be struggling to get health-care access, and they may have fallen behind on routine vaccinations, which protect against many common childhood diseases. Routine vaccines and seasonal influenza vaccine are more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we're grateful our partners are committed to maintaining access to these health centers," said Patty Hayes, Director of Public Health—Seattle & King County.

Public Health coordinates the network of 34 clinics, and directly operates three locations. All the others staffed and operated by community health-care providers, which compete through a Request for Application process to provide health services.


A wide range of services, helping close the opportunity gap

Even while schools are remote, vaccinations are one of the best ways to keep students healthy and ready to learn. Students who are behind on required vaccinations will need to be in compliance before scheduled in-person learning begins.

"School-based health investments are an important tool in eliminating race-based opportunity gaps and ensuring that students furthest from educational justice can access the health services that will better equip them for educational and life success. We'd like to thank Director Patty Hayes and all our partners at Public Health – Seattle & King County for the work they're doing to serve Seattle students through our school-based health centers," said Dwane Chappelle, Director of the Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning.

The school health centers also offer nutrition education, promote supportive relationships, and reinforce positive self-images. Dental services will be available to all students in Seattle at Mercer Middle School and Chief Sealth High School. Vashon students can also get dental care at school.

The school health centers have introduced new protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as staggering appointment times and limiting the number of people who enter the facility.

In Seattle, School-Based Health Centers are funded in part by the voter-approved Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Levy. Centers in other cities are funded in part by the voter-approved Best Starts for Kids Levy.

See a list of King County's comprehensive School-Based Health Centers (openings are subject to change and hours may be limited – call before visiting)

About FEPP Levy School-Based Health Investments:

The Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise Levy passed by voters in 2018 will invest more than $51 million over seven years in School Based Health Centers serving elementary, middle, and high school students across the city. These K-12 Student Health investments are designed to increase access to comprehensive medical and mental health care and other services; promote early intervention, prevention, and treatment of health-related barriers to learning and life success; and increase the number of students graduating prepared to the post-secondary pathway of their choice. K-12 School Health investments provide direct student support services and are an important bridge between health and education to promote school attendance and improved academic performance. Research has consistently demonstrated that physical and mental health concerns can be barriers to learning. These investments provide direct student support services, with a particular focus on historically underserved populations.

About Best Starts for Kids:

Best Starts for Kids builds on the strengths of families and communities so that babies are born healthy, children thrive and establish a strong foundation for life, and young people grow into happy, healthy adults. Best Starts for Kids is considered the most comprehensive approach to child development in the nation. Best Starts invests an average of $65 million per year to support King County families and children, from the time that parents plan for a family, and throughout childhood and young adulthood.


How to follow updates about COVID-19 from Public Health