In 1973, the Maryland State School Health Council, in its advisory role to the Maryland State Department of Education and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, first developed guidelines for local school health councils. The guidelines provided direction for local health and education agencies to plan and coordinate their comprehensive school health programs pursuant to the state school health law, now recodified as Education Article 7-401 et.seq. These guidelines were developed to meet the needs of local jurisdiction and the current school practice. In 1998, the guidelines were revised to address the expanded school health program, the changing needs of school health, and the new support systems for school health at the state and local level.
In 1991, the mandate of Education Article 7-401 (b), to promulgate joint state standards and guidelines, was finally implemented in the Education Bylaw, COMAR 13A.05.05.05-.15.Section .13A of this bylaw mandated each local superintendent and health officer, assisted by the Maryland State School Health Council, to establish a local school health council. Compliance with these regulations was required by September 1, 1995. This regulation has encouraged the formation of local councils, but local health and education agencies frequently request guidance and assistance in the establishment and continuation of their local councils. This newly revised document with attachments and references is intended to address these reports.
The most effective tool for promoting coordinated comprehensive school health programs is the support of the local community. A local school health council is an advisory group composed of members representing broad segments of the community, including health, business, clergy, social services, parents, teachers, and school administrators. The group acts collectively to identify needs, review programs and policies, and generally provide advice to the local school system and health department on the school health program. A successful council will safeguard the health of school children and staff and promote the educational mission of the school system. It will also bring the community together to support school health.