Policies provide the structure for their respective organizations. They are vital tools for establishing the rules, regulations, procedures and protocols that keep organizations running smoothly. Schools are no different. Within schools policies keep the school running smoothly and safely to ensure student learning and successes.
Below are some select North Carolina and Chatham policies which impact how schools address health education, physical education and the school wellness environment. If you have questions please contact Anna Stormzand at (919) 545-8445 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Healthy Active Children Policy: The Healthy Active Children Policy was passed in 2003 by the State Board of Education. The policy outlined the steps that school districts needed to create healthy school environments. This includes four primary components:
- Section 1: Local School Health Advisory Councils- Mandates that school districts will maintain a School Health Advisory Council comprised of community and school representatives to oversee school health and wellness.
- Section 2: Physical Education and Physical Activity- This section of the policy outlines the minutes of physical activity that students should receive a week. Elementary school students should receive 150 minutes per week, and middle school students should receive 225 minutes a week. This section also outlines that Physical Education classes be aligned with the Healthful Living Essential Standards.
- Section 3: Recess- This section states that schools may not use physical activity as a punishment for students nor can recess cannot be taken away as a punishment. Updated in 2005, this section was expanded to include the requirement that students receive a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity per day. This can be through a combination of Physical Education classes, recess, intramurals, or energizers in the classroom. Find energizers under “Classroom Health and Wellness Resources.”
- Section 4: Coordinated School Health Programs (CSHP)- States that school districts will follow a coordinated school health model when addressing health issues within the schools. Find more on the Coordinated School Health Model on the Creating a Healthy School Environment page.
Healthy Active Children Policy Resources:
Healthy Youth Act: In 2009 the Healthy Youth Act was passed by the North Carolina General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor. The Healthy Youth Act made significant changes to the instruction of reproductive health and safety. The largest change being the Healthy Youth Act requires schools to provide comprehensive sexuality education rather than abstinence only education.
“Comprehensive sexuality education is a loose term that commonly refers to sexuality education that includes instruction on both abstinence and on condoms and contraceptive methods. Comprehensive sexuality education has been widely researched and is proven to help students wait longer to have sex and be safer and more responsible when they do ultimately become sexually active (APPCNC).”
The North Carolina Essential Standards “Interpersonal Communication and Relationships” standards and clarifying objectives outline the instruction students should receive to comply with the Healthy Youth Act. Reproductive Health and Safety Education must teach the following points (from Sexual Health Initatives for Teens (SHIFT) North Carolina):
- Abstinence is the expected standard for school-aged children
- Strategies to deal with peer pressure
- Reasons, skills, and strategies for becoming or remaining abstinent
- Abstinence is the only certain means to prevent unintended pregnancy and diseases
- The best lifelong means of prevention is fidelity within marriage, including the value of monogamous, heterosexual marriage as an example of a healthy relationship
- The benefits of abstinence as compared to the risks of premarital sex
- Medically accurate information on HIV and STDs/STIs, including:
- How HIV/STIs are and are not transmitted
- Effectiveness and safety of all FDA-approved methods of risk reduction
- Available local resources for testing and treatment
- HIV/STI infection rates among youth and their effects
- Specific information about Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and its effects, including cancers like cervical cancer.
- The effectiveness and safety of all FDA-approved contraceptive methods
- Awareness of sexual assault, sexual abuse, and risk reduction:
- A focus on building healthy relationships
- What constitutes sexual assault and sexual abuse, the causes of those behaviors, and risk reduction
- Resources and reporting procedures if a student experiences sexual assault or abuse
- Common misconceptions about sexual assault and abuse
In addition, instruction must:
- Provide opportunities for parent/guardian-student interaction
- Provide factually accurate biological and pathological information
- Be objective and based upon scientific research that is peer reviewed and accepted by professionals and experts in the field of sexual health education
For Chatham County Schools this means:
- Chatham County Schools provide Reproductive Health and Safety Education that meets the guidelines set forth in the Healthy Youth Act. These guidelines are reflected in North Carolina’s Essential Standards. The knowledge encompassed by each standard builds yearly, so it is important that students receive the appropriate instruction each year. For information on recommended Reproductive Health and Safety Education curriculum, lesson plans and resources visit "Classroom Health and Wellness Resources".
- Parents/guardians are provided the opportunity to review any materials and/or curricula used in Reproductive Health and Safety Education. This opportunity is provided by a letter sent to parents prior to classroom instruction.
- Parents/guardians have the option to withdraw their child from instruction. All students automatically receive instruction, unless their parent fills out and completes a the Opt-Out section of the letter sent home to parents/guardians.
Health Active Children Policy Resources:
- Healthy Youth Act FAQ from SHIFT NC
- Read the Healthy Youth Act
- Take a one or five hour online course on the Healthy Youth Act from the NC School Health Training Center
School Wellness Policy 6140 & Regulation 6140R: North Carolina students spend over two thirds of the year in school, amounting to over 1,900 hours. Given this significant amount of time, it’s important that school environments support healthy habits. Creating a healthy school environment has many components, which are reflected in the Chatham County Student Wellness Policy (6140) and Wellness Regulations (6140R). The full text of the Chatham County Student Wellness Policy 6140 and Regulations 6140R can be found on the schools' policy wiki.
The Chatham Health Achievers Moving People toward Success (CHAMPS) program recognizes Chatham County schools that have taken steps to ensure they comply with the Student Wellness Policy. To learn more on the CHAMPS program and how to become a CHAMPS school, visit the CHAMPS program page.
Smoking and Tobacco Products Policy 5026-7250: The Chatham County Schools supports a safe and healthy school environment for students, staff and visitors. Part of this includes protecting students, staff and visitors from the potential harms of tobacco. As the policy outlines:
- Smoking and tobacco use poses a significant risk to the health of the user
- Exposure to secondary smoke is harmful to smokers and non-smokers
- Waste created by tobacco use adds to school maintenance costs, creates potential fire hazards and can damage school property
- Tobacco use contributes to asthma, ear infections, and upper respiratory infections, which are primary reasons for school absence, and therefore interferes with student learning
- Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke has been linked to decreases in reading and math scores and language and reasoning deficits in children and youth
Thus, the district maintains a 100% tobacco free policy. This policy prohibits the use of:
- All tobacco products as defined as “includes but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, snuff, pipes, bidis, smoking tobacco, smokeless tobacco, nicotine, nicotine-delivering devices and chemicals or devices that produce the same flavor or physical effect of nicotine substances or emit nicotine vapor.” This definition covers all tobacco products including combustible (ex. cigarettes, cigars), smokeless (ex. chew, snuff), and electronic (ex. e-cigarettes, e-hookas).
- By all individuals performing services or activities on behalf of the school district. This includes school employees, volunteers, visitors and contractors.
- On all grounds and/or property used by the school district.
- At any school-sponsored or school-related activity, or off school grounds.
- By school employees, volunteers, contractors or other persons while on duty and in the presence of students, either on or off school grounds.
The policy is supported by school curriculum that teaches the harmful effects of smoking and tobacco use.
To read the policy in full see the schools' policy wiki. Consequences for students violating the tobacco policy can be found on page 8 of the Code of Student Conduct.