The FAQ section of this site will continue to grow as we add more resources and as we receive more questions from schools and other partners.

General Questions

The DPHHS administrative rules apply to all school accredited by the Board of Public Education. This is consistent with rule language adopted and in effect since 1986. 

The entity responsible for oversight of the school is responsible for the health and safety of the individuals using the school facility. Private schools and tribal schools accredited by the Board of Public Education must comply with the administrative rules.

All rules adopted and amended under Administrative Rules of Montana 37.111.8 are effective upon publication on January 21, 2020 unless
specifically stated otherwise within a rule.

Alternate Effective Dates

  • 37.111.826 INDOOR AIR QUALITY & 37.111.827 OUTDOOR AIR QUALITY are effective September 1, 2020.
     
  • 37.111.813 SCIENCE, INDUSTRIAL ARTS, AND ART LABORATORY SAFETY is effective September 1, 2021.
     
  • Beginning September 1, 2021, the school shall have and follow written policies and procedures regarding the storage, administration, and lawful disposal of prescription, nonprescription, and over-the-counter medication.
     
  • Schools must develop and implement an approved Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program beginning September 1, 2021.
     
  • By September 1, 2021, all schools must create and implement a flushing program unless the school meets the waiver requirements. 
    • Schools may apply to DEQ for a flushing program waiver based on materials inventory and certification by the school that the school meets the lead-free definition as defined in Section 1417 of the Safe Drinking Water Act.
       
  • Lead Testing in Schools 
    • Schools must sample all water fountains and sinks used for food preparation. All other potential human consumption fixtures (HCF) must be sampled, unless the school or school district submits a testing plan to the DEQ to test a representative sample of potential HCFs in the school. Proposed testing plans will be approved or denied by the DEQ. Initial samples must be taken by December 31, 2021.

Compliance & Inspections

Public health partners will work with schools to create healthier learning environments. Following inspections conducted by Local County Health Departments, the health department must submit a written report to the school/school district. Deficiencies will be noted in the report and schools will be asked to come up with a plan to address these issues. County health departments and the Montana Department of Public Health will provide guidance for schools taking steps to comply with the administrative rules. 

In extremely rare circumstances, the local health authority may pursue legal measures to required a school temporarily shut down due to rule violations under 37.111.8. The temporary closure of a school building would occur only if there is an immediate risk to the health and safety of the students and staff occupying the building. Local health departments will give school districts ample opportunity to comply with the administrative rules.

Anyone approved by the school administrator can conduct playground inspections using the playground inspection checklist provided by DPHHS. Facility managers may have the ability to more easily identify safety issues and promptly address the deficiencies. A simple playground walk through inspection form can guide school staff through the monthly playground inspection.

Although “green” cleaners may sometimes appear more expensive than conventional products, they most often cost the same – or less – to use. Many school districts as well as local and state agencies that have switched to environmentally preferable cleaners have saved money by replacing a “ready to use” conventional cleaning product with a highly concentrated “green” cleaner. All institutional cleaning products certified by Green Seal and EcoLogo are concentrates. 

The cost savings are even more dramatic when institutions start using automatic dilution equipment, which reduces the unnecessary, expensive and potentially hazardous over-concentration of cleaning products diluted manually. Moreover, many schools that have embarked on a green cleaning program have saved money by reducing the number of cleaning products they need to stock by eliminating unnecessary products. Finally, some school districts have negotiated comparable prices for green cleaners from their vendors or through cooperative purchasing agreements.

Green-certified cleaning products save money because they are often more highly concentrated than conventional cleaning products. Savings are greatest when schools use automated equipment to dilute concentrated green cleaners. (When comparing cleaning products, it is important to calculate the cost of the diluted product on a preapplication, “as used” basis, rather than looking only at the cost of the bottle of concentrate, since dilutions can vary widely.)

  • In a pilot test conducted by the Green Purchasing Institute for the State of Hawaii, two schools in Honolulu reduced the cost of their restroom cleaning products from $6-12 per gallon to less than $1 per gallon by replacing a ready-to use conventional product with a highly-concentrated Green Seal-certified product that is typically diluted with 64 to 256 parts water. [1]
     
  • Harvard University Medical School replaced its conventional ready-to-use glass cleaner, which cost $1.50 per quart, with a less-toxic, concentrated glass cleaner that cost only $0.25 per quart when diluted. The Manager of Custodial Services reported: “The cost impact of going green for us at the Medical School was negligible for two reasons: We had gone to portion control chemical dispensers previous to green chemicals and the green chemicals are on the portion control system. Portion control is where the real savings are. Our price on the green chemicals was the same as the cost of the non-green chemicals.” [2]
Several school districts have reported saving money by reducing the number of different products they use.
  • Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, GA realized a $280,000 annual savings by replacing 20 different cleaning products with a single Green Seal-certified product to clean 270 dorm rooms and 100 bathrooms. [3]
     
  • Harvard University Medical School reported saving $11,700 a year when it switched to green cleaning products by reducing the number of products they used.
 
1. Green Purchasing Institute, “Final Report on the Hawaii Green Cleaning in Schools Pilot Tests,” 2008 (unpublished).
2. Robert Christiano, Custodial Services Manager, Harvard University Medical School, email correspondence, March 31, 2009
3. Connecticut Foundation on Environmentally Safe Schools, supra note 2

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Key Documents

Official Rules 37.111.8
School Rules: Summary of Changes

Important Dates

September 1, 2021
Schools must establish a water flushing program to implement following periods of inactivity (3 or more days).

Beginning   September 1, 2021, schools must have and follow written policies and procedures regarding the storage, administration, and lawful disposal of prescription, nonprescription, and over-the-counter medication.

Schools must develop and implement an approved Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program beginning   September 1, 2021.

 

December 31, 2021
Initial water samples must be take by December 31, 2021. 


Partner Links

DEQ
Montana School Labs Waste Management
Lead Reduction in Schools: Drinking Water Program
Today's Air: Air Quality Monitoring

DPHHS
Communicable Disease Prevention School Resources

OPI
Health Enhancement & Safety Division