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Archive for Wednesday, February 15, 1995

EDUCATORS STRESS NEED FOR LATEST AIDS INFO

February 15, 1995

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Health-curriculum officials would like Lawrence schools to have the latest information about AIDS, which recently became the leading killer of people ages 25 to 44.

The request is part of a report released this week about "Growing Healthy," a comprehensive health program of the National Center for Health Education, adopted in the Lawrence school district as a pilot program in 1988.

Lynda Allen, science coordinator, said teachers had to seek information from outside sources because films and other materials in the program are dated.

"If you're teaching about AIDS and HIV, then you need something very current," she said.

The school board supported a recommendation from Allen and Randy Weseman, division director of curriculum, to set up a committee of primary teachers, nurses, parents and administrators to review materials and update them when necessary.

A 1993 teacher survey showed that 71 percent of primary and 90 percent of intermediate teachers agreed the program was an appropriate health curriculum.

In a follow-up survey in 1994, teachers requested more in-service training on health issues; reading materials at a level better-suited for children; and a streamlined program, avoiding repetition with DARE and school-nurse lessons.

School board members urged schools to send letters to parents explaining sex-education lessons in advance, a practice many schools already use.

Board member George Crawford said policy allowed parents to excuse children from any or all portions of the program without penalty, but he also had a caution.

"I think we can ill afford to ignore the fatal consequences of not paying attention to some very serious threats to health in this world," he said.

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