Schools focusing on a key part of student performance: Their health

Aug 08, 2018

Schools and districts throughout the area are taking steps to support student health, which is seen by experts as a key factor in helping those students’ academic success.

More than two dozen districts answered questions from this news organization about their practices in connection to student health. Their training and tools include recognizing medical conditions, using defibrillators and knowledge of how to give students medicine.

Kevin Lorson, the director of Wright State University’s physical education license program, said students’ health can affect their performance in the classroom..

“Health is so important to academic success,” Lorson said. “The healthier students are, the more they might achieve.”

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Parents can take several steps to ensure their children stay healthy when they go back to school, including making sure they have the proper vaccinations, officials said.

The Ohio Department of health requires children to be vaccinated for various diseases including polio, measles and mumps in order to attend school. A full list of required vaccinations can be found on the ODH website.

“Vaccination is one of the best ways we can protect ourselves, and parents can protect their children, from harmful diseases,” said Dr. Michael Dohn, Medical Director of Public Health – Dayton and Montgomery County. “Vaccine-preventable diseases can be very serious, even deadly, especially in infants, young children and the elderly.”

Student health involves more than just washing hands and getting vaccinations, officials said. Lorson said parents should make sure their kids lead all-around healthy lives.

“It can be just a day-to-day operation,” said Lorson, who has children in the first and eighth grades.

Parents can do a number of things to ensure their kids are healthy at school. Lorson said those include making sure students get plenty of sleep and eat well and are socially and emotionally healthy.

“Kids want to make sure they get plenty of sleep, so one of the best ways to get plenty of sleep is to set a regular bed time,” said Dan Suffoletto, a spokesperson for Public Health — Dayton and Montgomery County. “That way your body gets used to it, and you’ll get plenty of sleep.”

What local districts are doing

Local schools are taking steps to help students stay healthy. At the Warren County Career Center, all staff and students are trained in CPR and use of automated external defibrillators that can shock a person’s heart back into regular rhythm. Centerville City Schools officials said all school employees are required to complete computer-based training related to bloodborne pathogens and administering medication.

Of the schools and districts that responded to questions about their practices, all reported employing nurses of some type. Some, like Lebanon and Bellbrook, have a licensed nurse for each school. Others, including Xenia and Franklin, use clinic aides to support a smaller number of nurses.

Carroll High School and Northmont City Schools said that, in addition to having nurses, they train teachers to administer medications in certain situations. Franklin schools and the Miami Valley Career Tech Center both specifically pointed out that they don’t have teachers dispensing medication.

New Lebanon schools offers training on recognizing medical conditions, as well as what to do in a medical crisis. Alter High School and the Piqua district also said they focus on training.

“Staff members are trained in what to look for with students who have chronic health conditions,” said Mindy Gearhardt, Piqua’s director of student services. “Our nurses train our staff on what to do in case there is an emergency with (one of those students).”

Lorson said efforts by local schools to address student health follow statewide trends.

“Schools are evolving to help students, parents and families be successful,” he said. “We’re trying to equip kids with the skills to be healthy.”