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Fit To Be Taught, Vol. 65

Lack of School Nurses Impacts Students Health, Academics

Paula Apa-Hall is among the many school nurses who look back wistfully at the days of splinters, skinned knees, and runny noses.

One of two school nurses in the West Linn-Wilsonville (Oregon) School District, Apa-Hall is responsible for 3,800 students in seven buildings. The population she serves includes children with physical disabilities, diabetes, feeding tubes, catheters, emotional disorders, and life-threatening allergies.

I triage by phone and e-mail," Apa-Hall told Education World. Some days end in tears; other days Im beaming because things worked out. If I werent an optimist, I wouldnt still be here."

While Apa-Halls assignment is particularly challenging, she is not alone in feeling stretched thinner than a Band Aid.

At a time when more children with chronic medical conditions are enrolled in public schools than ever before, many districts are eliminating or not expanding nursing positions because of budget cuts and fierce competition in the job market for nurses -- forcing many schools to fall back on school personnel to provide medical services. The lack of nurses not only impacts chronically-ill students, but overall student performance by keeping more children healthy. And some fear cutbacks and outsourcing" care to non-medical personnel could have life-threatening consequences.

Id like to have a nurse in every school [nationally] so we can go back to nursing and teachers can go back to teaching and kids are safe and healthy," Apa-Hall said. Districts nationwide look at classroom personnel as the top priority -- and I agree -- but kids who dont feel well cant concentrate and dont learn as well if they feel sick."

Read the full article on Education World

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New P.E. Stresses Fitness for Life

In the last few years, significant progress has been made by the Spokane (Washington) School District in restructuring the fitness and health curriculum. Following an initial program review, an overarching goal was developed: to provide a developmentally appropriate, integrated fitness and health program implemented equally for all students to help them to move toward a self-directed wellness lifestyle. Instead of the old P.E., the program is now based on teaching students how to make healthful choices in nutrition, exercise, and life. The program serves about 30,000 students.

By employing heart rate monitors, fitness centers, and meaningful curriculum, this program has changed the culture of physical education classes in Spokane schools. Fitness for the individual, not skills development, is now the goal for these classes. All students can now enjoy the chance to address their own fitness needs at the rate and the level that best suits them. Students no longer are intimidated by learning skills that only the top athletes could master. Students are now taught why they need to be fit, are allowed to do appropriate fitness activities, and are given immediate and long-range feedback regarding their own fitness progress.

School staff members do yearly fitness tests with all students that are enrolled in fitness and health classes. Individual fitness reports that include the students own goals are sent home every year. These reports show students individual progress as well as the average fitness levels for other students of the same age in the district and in the nation.

Read more about this program at: Spokane Fitness and Health.

Click to learn more about Action for Healthy Kids.

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