Safe & Healthy Academic Environments

This Act limits the liability of school districts for injuries suffered by youth who participate in youth programs on school property. The Act directs school districts to work with the state interscholastic activities association to develop guidelines and inform coaches, athletes, and parents about the dangers of concussions and head injuries. The bill requires youth athletes and their parents or guardians sign a concussion and head injury information sheet for the athlete to be eligible to play in a program using school facilities.

This Act requires school districts ensure coaches get annual training to recognize when players exhibit concussion symptoms and how to seek proper medical treatment for players who exhibit such symptoms. The bill prohibits coaches from allowing players to practice or play in a game if the player exhibits concussion symptoms or has been diagnosed as having had a concussion until the player is cleared to play by a health care professional.

The Farm-to-School Initiative connects schools with area farms to serve healthy meals using locally produced foods. Farm-to-school programs contribute to children’s health by helping them develop healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime. Nationally, farm-to-school programs have increased from fewer than 10 in 1997 to more than 2,000 in 2008.

State legislators, primarily from CSG’s Eastern Regional Conference states, attended a 4-hour session to learn more about health reform and state policies can reduce health disparities related to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV/AIDS. Presentation by Dr. Gale Burstein, University of Buffalo Pediatrics Associates.

As a former social studies teacher who spent seven years in the classroom, I was fortunate never to face an explosive situation. I was never threatened by a student or parent. I never witnessed a student fight that I wasn’t able to deflate. I suspect that’s more than many teachers with similar experience can say. I feel a sense of relief that I never encountered the kind of personal threats that I have recently read about on an all-too regular basis in news articles.

Although bullying has long been a problem educators have faced, we are now seeing tragic results of taunting and bullying through social networking websites, text messages and other electronic means that were not available just a few years ago. School systems and state policymakers are beginning to look at measures to prevent cyberbullying and punish those who engage in it.

Zero tolerance policies mandate certain punishments for offenses at school regardless of the circumstances. But questions about how those policies are enforced are being raised due to the high number of minority students and students with disabilities that are suspended each year.

Wisconsin's recent sex-education law is spurring controversy in local school districts.

In 2006, lots of kids in West Virginia started dancing to a video game—not in an arcade—but in a school.  The game—called Dance Dance Revolution—incorporates dance moves to the latest pop songs, lighting up the steps on a special floor mat for players to follow.  Those kids got moving when schools saw the success in a 2004 effort launched by the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency. It was an effort to address the problem of childhood obesity and help the children of the agency’s members lose weight.

Health educators are providing sexual health information to individuals who send questions via text messages and websites. These innovative approaches are effective in reaching teens through the media they use most, enable education on how to prevent sexually transmitted infections and how to get tested, overcome limited opportunities for face-to-face education, and stretch the limited resources for public health programs.