Healthy Schools Certification
Why is the Healthy Schools Approach important?
The Healthy Schools Approach brings staff, students, parents/caregivers, and the community together to impact the health of everyone in the school. The Healthy Schools Approach motivates and supports school communities in establishing healthy, safe, and inclusive learning environments where all students can reach their full potential, all while supporting school board and provincial level policies (e.g., Board Improvement Plans).
Watch the Healthy Schools Professional Development videos for a brief overview of the Healthy Schools Approach.
What is Healthy Schools Certification?
Healthy Schools Certification is based on the 4-Step Healthy Schools Process, inspired by the Canadian Healthy School Standards and Canada’s Comprehensive School Health Framework. Certification is based on a school’s ability to follow and complete the process, and not on the type or number of activities completed.
These are the 4 steps of the Healthy Schools Process:
Step 1: Assemble Your Team
Step 2: Identify Your School Community Priorities, Assets, and Health Topic(s)
Step 3: Develop Your Plan and Take Action
Step 4: Celebrate and Reflect
Through the HSC process, schools will plan and carry out activities that address their school community needs and priorities. Through a point-based system, schools will be able to report on their Healthy Schools Process steps online and apply for Gold, Silver, or Bronze Healthy Schools certification. Healthy Schools Certification is an annual process that reflects the reality of each unique school year.
Teams can focus their efforts on as many as three health topics that include:
Why can participating schools select more than one health topic?
Allowing schools to select up to three health topics recognizes that a school’s priorities and assets can lend themselves to multiple health topics. As well, many activities address more than one health topic. However, it is important to note that points are not assigned to the number of health topics chosen (e.g., a school that chooses three health topics will not receive more points than a school that chooses one).
How can my school become certified?
Healthy Schools Certification has been developed using a point-based system aligned with the 4-Step Healthy Schools Process. Participating schools need to register before the November 24th deadline and will then follow the 4-Step Healthy Schools Process to complete activities over the course of the school year. During the year, they will plan and track their progress through their online dashboard. In May, schools can then apply to be certified as a Gold, Silver, or Bronze Healthy School. Refer to the Guidebook for full details.
Can any school apply to be certified?
All schools within Canada can participate in Healthy Schools Certification. This includes schools belonging to Public and Catholic, English and Francophone School Boards, and private and independent schools.
Can both elementary and secondary schools participate in Healthy Schools Certification?
Yes, both elementary and secondary schools can participate in Healthy Schools Certification. All schools within Canada can participate. This includes schools belonging to Public and Catholic, English and Francophone School Boards, and private and independent schools.
Registering and Accessing the Online Dashboard for Healthy Schools Certification
How do I register my school?
On or after Monday, September 11th 2023, at 10 a.m. (MT), 12 p.m. (ET), 1 p.m. (AT) go to healthyschools.ca, click the “Register” button on the top-right corner of the page, and follow the prompts online to register. Before you go to register, check out the registration information to ensure you have everything ready to submit.
Who can register my school?
Only a current school staff member can register their school.
What do I do if I don’t see my School Board/District/Authority or school listed on the ‘Register for Program’ webform?
If your School Board/District/Authority or school is not included in the drop-down lists to register your school, please contact us with your first and last name, province, school board/district/authority and school name. Please do not use abbreviations.
How do I confirm that my school was successfully registered?
Upon successful completion of the Register for Program form, you will receive a pop-up message indicating that you have successfully completed step one of two of the registration process. Before beginning step 2 you will receive an email containing a one-time link that you must click on to set a password for the account you created in step 1. Upon setting your password you will be redirected to step 2 to complete an online webform where you will be required to add additional school information. Once you have successfully completed the webform, you will receive a final email confirming your successful registration in the program.
Please ensure that you check your "Spam" or "Junk Email" folders. Contact us if you do not receive an email within 3 business days.
Once I’m registered, how do I access the online dashboard?
First thing’s first—you need to log in to your Healthy Schools Certification account. Once you’ve done that, you can go to healthyschools.ca/dashboard. If you aren’t signed into your Healthy Schools Certification account, you won’t be able to access your Dashboard, so make sure to do that first!
Can I add others to the online dashboard so that they have access to add things, too?
Yes! The Healthy Schools Lead (typically the individual who registered the school) can add additional users. To add additional users to your Healthy Schools Certification account, first start by navigating to your Dashboard. From there, you will see a yellow "Add Healthy Schools Team Members" button on the left side of your screen. Click that button and add additional contributors to your school’s Dashboard. Important: If you support multiple schools, please contact us for additional information!
Please ensure that team members check their "Spam" or "Junk Email" folders.
Where can I find an accessible version of the Guidebook?
An accessible version of the Guidebook can be accessed from your online dashboard or by contacting us.
Does it cost any money to participate in Healthy Schools Certification?
Healthy Schools Certification is free for all publicly funded schools.
In Ontario, there is a fee of $500.00 CAD each year for private and independent schools participating in Healthy Schools Certification. If you are a private or independent school that’s considering Healthy Schools Certification, click to learn about the registration process!
Healthy Schools Lead
Who should be the Healthy Schools Lead?
The Healthy Schools Lead is a staff member of the school who champions Healthy Schools in their community and serves as a key contact for Healthy Schools Certification. The Healthy Schools Lead does not need to be an expert with the Healthy Schools Approach: in fact, they may be new to Healthy Schools and have an interest in promoting health and well-being in their school community. This position is decided by the school. In most instances, the lead will be a teacher from the school, but they may also be a different staff member, such as an early childhood educator, guidance counsellor, or an administrator.
What’s the time commitment for the Healthy Schools Lead?
The Healthy Schools Lead will be the key contact for Healthy Schools Certification for the school year. There is no specific time commitment for each Healthy Schools Lead, but the expectation would be that they would use the Guidebook/School Dashboard to work with their team to lead activities and report back to us. The Healthy Schools Approach is about collaboration, which means that even though the Healthy Schools Lead is the main link between us and their school, it doesn’t mean that they do all the work. Instead, Healthy Schools is about working with other school staff, parents/caregivers, public health, and community partners to share the responsibilities. Also, at the heart of the Healthy Schools Approach is student engagement, meaning students should be leading as much as they can.
Can I transfer the Healthy Schools Lead position to someone else?
Yes! To initiate the Healthy Schools Lead change process, navigate to your dashboard and click on the yellow "Change Healthy Schools Lead" button. Complete the required fields on the online webform and the lead will be updated within 3 business days.
What are the reporting requirements for a school to become certified?
Reporting requirements to earn points toward certification vary across each process step. In some instances, school teams are only required to provide basic information (e.g., “Yes” or “No” answers) to earn points while, in other cases, additional information is required to demonstrate your work.
Refer to the Guidebook for points breakdown and Reporting Requirements.
How are students engaged in Healthy Schools Certification?
Student engagement is an important component of Healthy Schools Certification. This means that students are part of the team, help choose the school’s health topic(s), and plan and lead activities (at both the elementary and secondary levels). The degree to which students are engaged depends on the school, with the hope that student involvement moves from participation to leadership (at all grades).
What is the timeline for Healthy Schools Certification? Do you need to be recertified every year?
Healthy Schools Certification is an annual process. Schools will need to reapply on an annual basis as the certification is a result of each unique school year. School certification levels will be announced in late May/early June of each year.
Key dates to remember:
Friday, November 24, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. (MT), 12:00 p.m. (ET), 1:00 p.m. (AT): Deadline to register
Friday, May 3, 2024, at 10:00 a.m. (MT), 12:00 p.m. (ET), 1:00 p.m. (AT): Final deadline for certification (to report on Steps 1 to 4)
Support for Schools
How does Ophea support schools that want to be certified?
We have developed a series of support tools that are available to schools registered for Healthy Schools Certification. We will also provide schools participating in Healthy Schools Certification with training and consultation support on an ongoing basis. This may include consultation from Ever Active Schools, PHE Canada or Ophea depending on where your school is located.
Support tools can be accessed by registered schools from the online dashboard. The Healthy Schools Certification Team is available year-round by email as an additional support to schools: Contact Us.
Does Healthy Schools Certification provide funding to schools?
No, Healthy Schools Certification does not provide funding to schools during the 2023/24 school year.
How Can I Get Involved in Healthy Schools Certification?
Are you a school staff?
Educators, including teachers, administrators, and support staff, are the backbone of any school team. As staff of the school, they have a solid understanding of school and board/district/authority objectives, as well as an appreciation of the diversity of the students and school community. Educators are involved in all stages of the Healthy Schools Process. The more educators are able to contribute, the more your team will be able to accomplish, and the more students will want to be involved.
The Healthy Schools Lead is a staff member at the school who agrees to facilitate the team and act as the main contact for the Healthy Schools Certification program. The Healthy Schools Lead does not need to be an expert with the Healthy Schools Approach: in fact, they may be new to Healthy Schools and have an interest in promoting health and well-being in their school community.
Administrators, including principals and vice-principals, are the “community builder(s) who create(s) a healthy and safe school environment that is welcoming to all, and who ensure(s) that all members of the school community are kept well informed.” 1 For a school to be successful in the Healthy Schools Approach, it needs the support of the administration.
- If you are an educator who wants your school to participate in Healthy Schools Certification and you are ready to act as the Healthy Schools Lead, click here to register your school.
If you are an educator who wants your school to participate in Healthy Schools Certification, but are not the Healthy Schools Lead, share the Guidebook with your school administrator to figure out who might be the best staff member to act as the Healthy Schools Lead.
1 Ministry of Education. (2019). The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1–8: Health and Physical Education, 17.
Are you a student?
Student involvement is an important part of the Healthy Schools Approach and all students can make their school a healthy school. Students can contribute to a healthy school by identifying what matters to them and what they like to do and contributing to or leading activities (based on their abilities). Students may even take on more of a leadership role, planning and running activities and engaging community partners. If you are a student who wants your school to participate in Healthy Schools Certification, talk to your teacher, a parent/family member, or a staff member at your school!
Are you a parent/caregiver?
Parents, guardians, caregivers, and family members have a lot to offer a healthy school. Family engagement in the school team can ensure that the activities reflect the community and that the health and well-being promoted in schools is reinforced in the home. Families may also have their own assets to share, such as time, skills, or volunteer connections.
If you are a parent or family member who wants your child’s school to participate in Healthy Schools Certification, talk to your child’s teacher or a staff member at your school!
Are you a public health staff member?
Publicly funded schools in Canada are supported by local public health teams that often play a key role in supporting school communities in adopting the Healthy Schools Approach. Public health services and programs address a variety of health topics and promote the health and well-being of children and youth, and the school community.
If you are a public health staff member who wants your local school to participate in Healthy Schools Certification, talk to the school’s administration or a staff member!
If you want to support multiple schools, please contact us us for additional information!
Are you a community partner?
Community partners play an important role in supporting Healthy Schools initiatives by providing their services, resources, and expertise as schools plan activities. Community partners include local businesses, not-for-profit organizations, feeder and neighbouring schools, recreation and sports groups, community safety services, community health centres, and municipalities. If you are a community partner who wants your local school to participate in Healthy Schools Certification, talk to the school’s administration or a staff member!