The Governor’s Council on Fitness makes two recommendations on behalf of improving the health and fitness of Kansans. These recommendations are geared to address the increasingly urgent need to curb overweight and inactivity among Kansas children and youth. The recommendations do not supersede those made by the Governor’s Council on Fitness in 2007; rather, the two recommendations below represent an agreed upon starting point from which the balance of the Council’s recommendations can move forward.
Recommendation 1: Use height and weight information to monitor youth health
Most Kansas public schools routinely (at least one time per academic year) collect height and weight information of students. This information is critical to understanding the state of health among Kansas youth. Recommendation 1 supports the following requirement for the 2009-2010 school year:
- All schools that collect height and weight data routinely will make that information available to the Kansas Coordinated School Health Program (for the 2009-2010 academic school year). CSH will provide schools (or districts, if appropriate) with guidance on how to submit this information to ensure that confidentiality is maintained. In all cases, the transfer of height and weight information will be done in a way that minimizes or eliminates any additional school or district expenditures beyond that already spent to collect the information.
- The Coordinated School Health Program will arrange secure data transfer to or data sharing with designated Kansas Department of Health and Environment staff. KDHE staff will be responsible for computing BMI (Body Mass Index) and reporting these summary data (by age, gender and race/ethnicity) on a statewide, regional and/or district level as deemed appropriate by the Coordinated School Health Program. In all cases, these reports will be provided to schools and districts via the secure CSH website.
Recommendation 2: Strengthen physical education requirements for Kansas youth
Both the cost and an emphasis on academic achievement have sometimes been considered barriers to increasing physical education programs in schools, but recognition is growing that physical activity during the school day may contribute to many benefits, including increases in student achievement.
Currently, all students in grades K-12, “including those with disabilities, special health care needs and in alternative education settings, have the opportunity to participate in moderate to vigorous physical activity on a regularly scheduled basis each school week during the entire school year.” (This corresponds to the “Basic” level of the School Wellness Policy). No actual requirement exists for elementary or middle/junior high school students in Kansas public schools. (Note: the Governor’s Council on Fitness 2008 recommendation does not request any alteration to the (graduation) requirement for high school students.)
Recommendation 2 supports the following requirements for the 2009-2010 school year. The Kansas Board of Education is urged to adopt the recommendation by amending QPA regulations as follows:
- All K-8 elementary and middle/junior high school students (including those with disabilities, special health care needs and in alternative education settings) will be required to participate in moderate to vigorous physical activity on a regularly scheduled basis each school week during the entire school year.
- Exceptions to the requirement will include those currently mandated by law. (QPA Regulation states that the requirement shall be waived if the school district is provided with either of the following: (A) A statement by a licensed physician that a pupil is mentally or physically incapable of participating in a regular or modified physical education program; or (B) a statement, signed by a lawful custodian of the pupil, indicating that the requirement is contrary to the religious teachings of the pupil.)
- All Kansas public schools should adopt the Kansas Wellness Policy guidelines and comply with all of the “Basic” level requirements for physical education. (The Wellness Policy guidelines state that students should receive 100-150 minutes of physical education per week and that during physical education classes, students should engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 15 minutes per day and/or 75 minutes per week.)