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School Safety

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:

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 safely.

Contact Information:

Whatcom County Health Department
Environmental Health Section
Phone: (360) 676-6724

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