The Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District is considering several revisions to existing policies that officials hope will improve student wellness.

At their Feb. 1 meeting, the board heard a long list of updates to existing policies designed to improve health within the district. The presentation followed significant research by staff.

“We worked on this for a year and a half,” said Lora Morn, a coordinating school nurse and wellness policy coordinator. “We gathered a lot of people with different expertizes, as seen in our ad hoc committee . We knew what was currently happening and what should be happening.” Members from the proposal’s ad hoc committee, a subcommittee of the Health & Safety District Advisory Committee (also known as DAC) range from nurses and teachers to medical doctors.

Morn shared stats from years past, among them figures concerning physical health, showing that as recently as 2014, 15-20% of students didn’t pass state fitness components. Physical health wasn’t the only item on the proposal, as health services and emotional well-being were included as well; the presentation noted suicide being the 2nd leading cause of death among youth ages 10-24.

Goals included addressing suicide prevention, expanding healthy food options, addressing special dietary needs, and getting students to adhere to a standards-based and inclusive physical education among many others.

“I’m thrilled to see what’s in here,” Jon Kean, Vice President of the Board said. “I know some of this takes a lot of money and a lot of people, but some of this shouldn’t take much at all. Please hold us to this.”

Although the board seemed unanimous in their praise for the proposal (besides pleas to make the proposal more accessible), the Feb. 1 item was limited to a preliminary discussion.

Staff will work out any kinks in the proposal and bring it back to the board for approval at the Feb. 15 meeting.

The Board said it was important the work advance into real-world execution.

“We have to join you and say this is what we want to do,” Boardmember Laurie Lieberman said. “Let’s find ways this doesn’t just go on the shelf, let’s let it inform policies and actions. The implementation will be a challenge. This is the ‘what,’ the ‘how’ will come.”

angel@smdp.com

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