Student wellness a top priority

The New Albany School District is always looking for ways to make the district better and to keep the students healthier and one of these ways is by adhering to the guidelines in the elementary school's wellness policy.

The New Albany School Board adopted the 2012-2013 New Albany Elementary School Local School Wellness Policy at the July board meeting.

Tammie Reeder, RN/BSN. school nurse/school health coordinator for the New Albany School District, said that there wasn't many changes between last year's policy and this year's policy.

“There are minimum requirements and suggestions looking at how we can improve each year. This policy is a template from the Office of Healthy Schools from the Mississippi Department of Education and is centered around the eight components of coordinated school health,” said Reeder.

These eight components are nutrition services, physical education and activity services, healthy school environment services, health education services, health services, counseling, psychological, and social services, family and community services, and health promotion for staff.

“Those eight components encompass everything that happens at the schools throughout the school year,” said Reeder.

To support the relationship between student health and academic achievement, the 2007 Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards and the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004  requires each local school to establish a local school wellness policy.

This school's wellness policy is based upon this eight-component model of a coordinated approach to school health, which was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The policy has a goal to help show the importance of leadership, coordination, and partnerships to implement quality school health programs that provide opportunities for all children to be fit, healthy, and ready to succeed.

One of the minimum requirements that the school has to follow under the wellness policy is the implementation of goals for nutrition education, physical activity, and other school-based activities that are designed to promote students wellness in a manner that the local education agency determines is appropriate. 

One of the objectives is to promote student health and reduce childhood obesity.

Under the commitment to nutrition, the minimum requirements for NAES are the following: offer a school lunch program with menus that meet the meal patterns and nutrition standards established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Mississippi Department of Education, and the Office of Child Nutrition Programs; offer school breakfast and snack programs with menus that meet the meal patterns and nutrition standards established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Mississippi Department of Education, and the Office of Child Nutrition Programs; promote participation ins school meal programs to families and staff; operate all Child Nutrition Programs with school foodservice staff who are properly qualified according to current professional standards; follow State Board of Education policies on competitive foods and extra food sales.

Under the commitment to food safe schools, NAES will implement a food safety program and ensure that the food service permit is current for the school site. Under the commitment to physical activity/physical education, NAES will provide 150 minutes per week of activity-based instruction for all students in grades K-8 and that Kindergarten students will participate in physical activity for a minimum of 40 minutes per school day, although the 40 minutes does not have to take place continuously.

Under the commitment to comprehensive health education, NAES will implement the requirements of the Mississippi Healthy Students Act of 2007, which requires 45 minutes per week of health education instruction as defined by the State Board of Education for grades K-8.

Under the commitment to a healthy school environment, NAES will ensure that there are no pad locks or chains on exit doors; exits should never be obstructed (in accordance with the Mississippi State Fire Code), ensure that all exit signs are illuminated and clearly visible, and more.

Under the commitment to quality health services, NAES will ensure that all school nurses are working under the guidelines of the Mississippi School Nurse Procedures and Standards of Care. Under the commitment to providing counseling, psychological, and social services, NAES will provide at a minimum, a half-time licensed guidance counselor for high school and ensure that all elementary school students have access to qualified student support personnel such as guidance counselors, social workers, nurses, psychologists, psychometrists, and others.

Under the commitment to family and community involvement, NAES will give parents and community the opportunity to serve on the School Health Council.

Under the commitment to implementing a quality staff wellness program, NAES will promote health and reduce risk factors through professional and staff development programs, providing information flyers and newsletters, introduce incentives for participating in healthy practices and activities, and offering an employee assistance program, and more.

For more information, call New Albany Elementary School at 662-534-1840.