The health and physical education curriculum review, which happens every five to six years, is winding down, with some prominent new ideas and changes taking shape for the Kodiak Island Borough School District (KIBSD).

In the realm of physical education, educators considered how to use the community pool. Grade schools use the pool, but it could be used more to teach swimming skills.

“The issue is that it is challenging from a scheduling and programmatic and logistical stand point to make the most use of the pool in the elementary grade levels,” said Steve Doerksen, KIBSD director of school and student services.

Health issues have brought a difference of opinion since the results of the health and physical education survey, to which 619 teachers and community members responded, pertaining to sex education.

“The survey caused some stir among folk. There has been some initial disagreement when it comes to sex education, but I think people understand that everyone wants to do best for the kids and that’s the common ground,” Doerksen said.

“There is agreement that abstinence is the only sure way and that’s the best way for people to be safe. But there will be some discussion on contraception in the eighth grade and high school program.”

When the sex education topic is approached, letters will be sent home to inform parents of the lesson with an option to keep their child from taking part. The lesson itself will take up a minimal amount of time.

“There’s far greater things going on in the area of health education than just that,” Doerksen said.

Another important curriculum change is the focus on relationships, one of the “four Rs.” Research for the four Rs is done at the University of Toronto and covers reading, writing, arithmetic and now relationships.

“We’ve found that there’s often a link between risky behaviors and relationships, so if we back up a little bit and talk about healthy relationships then we could curtail or diminish risk behaviors such as bullying, substance abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault,” Doerksen said.

The program focuses on decision-making skills and explores alternatives through role playing and practice, and is aligned with the national health education standards as well as the Alaska state standards.

“The idea of focusing on healthy relationships would be a proactive approach,” Doerksen said.

The health and physical education curriculums have been combed over and discussed by separate groups. The physical education curriculum subcommittee is composed of gym teachers and grade school teachers. The health subcommittee has representation from the school nurse, community nurses and health teachers.

The draft for curriculum changes should be finished by the end of February. A community meeting in mid- to late March will be held for more input.

Mirror writer Louis Garcia can be reached via e-mail at lgarcia@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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