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Mississippi School Health Policies

Health Education
Mandate: The Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards (2008) requires a ½ unit requirement of Comprehensive Health for graduation. Code §37-13-21 (1972) says, “The state board of health and the various county health departments are hereby authorized and empowered to establish and provide for health education programs in the public schools of this state and to employ county health educators for such purpose.” Code §37-13-135 (1990) states, “the Commission on School Accreditation shall encourage the development of plans of comprehensive school health education [by local boards of education].”

Curriculum Content: The Mississippi Curriculum Framework for Comprehensive Health Framework (2006) serves as a guideline for Comprehensive health teachers. The framework provides minimum content standards, which must be taught by the teachers, to ensure that all students will gain the information and skills necessary to make quality age appropriate health decisions.

State Assessment Requirement: None.

Physical Education
Mandate: The Legislature recommends the following guidelines for physical education and fitness: 30 minutes for K-6 and 2 hours per week for grades 7-9 in Code §37-13-134 (2003). Code §37-151-7 (1999) requires school districts to provide home economics education programs in grades 10, 11 or 12 that contain instruction in preparing students to assume responsibility for their care and guidance with emphasis in physical health.

Code §37-13-131 (1994) calls for the MS Department of Health and the Office of Student Development-Branch of Health-Related Services of the State Department of Education to develop a long-term strategic plan for a comprehensive school health program for grades K-12. This program shall include physical education and fitness as one of its components of curriculum.

Exemptions: None specified.

Curriculum Content: The 2006 Mississippi Physical Education Framework provides guidelines for use by all physical education instructors.

Standard 33 of the Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards state the basic curriculum of each elementary and middle school to include physical education. Standard 32 requires physical education be a part of the high school basic curriculum on an elective basis.

Code §37-13-134 recommends the following guidelines for physical education and fitness: 30 minutes for K-6 and 2 hours per week for grades 7-9.

Physical Fitness Assessment: None.

Specific Topic Areas:

The Wellness Policy: The local school board of each school district shall establish a local school health council for each school, which shall ensure that community values are reflected in the local schools wellness policy to address school health.

Asthma Awareness Education
The Comprehensive Health Framework (2006) covers health topics on chronic and non-communicable diseases.

Emotional, Social, and Mental Health Education
The Comprehensive Health Framework (2006) provides guidelines for health teachers to include instruction in mental health for grades K-12. Character Education: Code §37-13-181 (1999) allows school districts to develop and implement a comprehensive character education program in grades K-12.

HIV, STD, and Pregnancy Prevention Education Mandate:
Mississippi does not require students to receive instruction in HIV, STD, or pregnancy prevention, although the grade 9-12 portion of the Comprehensive Health Framework (2006) addresses prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases if schools choose to offer sex education. Code §37-13-171 (1998) states, "abstinence education shall be the state standard for any sex-related education taught in the public schools" and "any course containing sex education offered in the public schools shall include instruction in abstinence education. However, the local school board may authorize, by affirmative vote of a majority of the members, the teaching of sex education without instruction on abstinence. In such event, the curriculum offered in the schools relating to sex education must be approved by a majority of the school board members." Code §41-79-5 (2000) requires the Department of Health to establish and implement a Teen Pregnancy Pilot Program in the districts with the highest number of teen pregnancies. It should include reproductive health education, teen pregnancy, and sexually transmitted disease, which education shall include abstinence. This pilot program should be coordinated through the school nurse.

Curriculum Content: The 2006 Comprehensive Health Framework addresses prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases if schools choose to offer sex education for grades 9-12.

Parental Approval: Code §37-13-173 (1998) requires that schools give at least one week's written notice of an intent to provide any kind of sex education, and to provide parents an opportunity to review all materials. It also states, "upon the request of any parent, the school shall excuse the parent's child from such instruction or presentation, without detriment to the student" (an "opt-out policy).

Mississippi does not provide state funds for school-related HIV, STD, or pregnancy prevention activities.

Nutrition Education
Code §41-79-5 (2000) requires school nurse intervention services to provide nutrition education. Code §37-151-7 (1999) requires school districts to provide home economics education programs in grades 10, 11 or 12 that contain instruction in preparing students to assume responsibility for their care and guidance with emphasis in nutrition. The Comprehensive Health Framework (2006) specifically addresses nutrition education for grades K-12.

Alcohol, Tobacco, and Drug Use Education Alcohol: Code §41-79-5 (2000) requires school nurse intervention services to include alcohol abuse education. The Comprehensive Health Framework (2006) addresses alcohol abuse prevention in its curriculum in grades K-12.

Tobacco: Code §41-79-5 requires school nurse intervention services to include tobacco abuse education. In grades K-8, the 2006 Comprehensive Health Framework specifically addresses tobacco use prevention education and in grades 9-12, the curriculum targets preventive health practices and promotes positive health behavior.

Drugs: Code §41-79-5 requires school nurse intervention services to include drug abuse education. The Comprehensive Health Framework specifically addresses drug abuse prevention in its grades K-12 curriculum.

Violence Prevention Education
Bullying/Harassment: Code §37-11-54 (2003) calls the State Board of Education to develop a list of recommended conflict resolution and mediation materials, models, and curricula that address causes and effects of school violence, harassment, and nonviolent methods for resolving conflicts.

Fighting/Gangs: The Comprehensive Health Framework (2006) provides guidelines for instruction in conflict resolution in grades 2 and 9-12. Code §37-11-54 calls for the State Board of Education to develop a list of recommended conflict resolution and mediation materials, models, and curricula that addresses causes and effects of school violence, harassment, and nonviolent methods for resolving conflicts. Suicide and Other Self-Abuse Prevention: Not specifically required.

STAFF

Educators Requirements for All Educators Regarding Health Education Professional Development: No state policy.

Requirements for Health Educators
Pre-service Requirement: The minimum requirement for prospective health teachers in elementary, middle, and high school grades prior to licensure is a bachelor’s degree, a standard MS license, and completion of an approved institutional program in health education. The specific details of initial licensure are outlined in the Licensure Guidelines (2004) from the Commission on Teacher and Administrator Education, Licensure, and Development.

Professional Development: The state does require teachers to attend professional development in order to obtain continuing education credit to renew their teaching license outlined in the Licensure Guidelines from the Commission on Teacher and Administrator Education, Licensure, and Development. The content of professional development is left to the teachers/districts. State Board Policy GAD-1 (1997) requires the department of education to develop and disseminate a professional development model that establishes the expectations for individual educators and local district programs.

Requirements for Physical Educators
Pre-service Requirement: The minimum requirement for prospective physical education teachers in elementary, middle, and high school grades prior to licensure is a bachelor’s degree, a standard MS license, and 21 semester hours in physical education. The specific details of initial licensure are outlined in the Licensure Guidelines (2004) from the Commission on Teacher and Administrator Education, Licensure, and Development. The Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards and State Board Policy DFB-1 (1992) allow secondary teachers endorsed in an academic subject area to teach in grades 5-6, and the Standards also allow a regular elementary classroom teacher to provide physical education in a self-contained classroom setting.

Professional Development: The state does require teachers to attend professional development in order to obtain continuing education credit to renew their teaching license outlined in the Licensure Guidelines from the Commission on Teacher and Administrator Education, Licensure, and Development. The content of professional development is left to the teachers/districts. State Board Policy GAD-1 (1997) requires the department of education to develop and disseminate a professional development model that establishes the expectations for individual educators and local district programs.

Requirements for School Nurses
Pre-service Requirement: State officials report that in order to be employed as a school nurse, one must possess a valid license as a practical nurse or a registered nurse issued by the Mississippi Board of Nurses . For licensure as a practical nurse, Code §73-15-21 (2000) requires an applicant to possess a diploma from an approved high school, complete of a State Department of Education approved practical nursing program, and pass a board selected examination. For licensure as a registered nurse, Code § 73-15-19 (2000) requires an applicant to complete an approved nursing program, provide evidence of competence in English, and pass a board selected written examination.

Professional Development: None specified.

Student-to-Nurse Ratio: None specified.

Requirements for Non-Certified Personnel to Administer Medication
Pre-service Requirement: None specified. Professional Development: None specified.

Requirements for School Counselors
Pre-service Requirement: For a five year educator license in guidance and counseling, a candidate must either hold a five year educator license, have completed a master's degree program in guidance and counseling or hold a master's degree in another area and have completed an approved program for guidance and counseling, and passed the Praxis II specialty area test for guidance counselors OR completed an approved master's degree program for guidance and counseling which includes a full year internship OR hold a master's degree in another area and completed an approved program for guidance and counseling which includes a full year internship, passed the Praxis I and passed the Praxis II specialty area test for guidance counselors. Details are outlined in Licensure Guidelines (436) .

Code §37-9-79 (2002) requires school guidance counselors to hold a master's degree in guidance and counseling, or in an emergency situation, an appropriate certification as determined by the Commission on Teacher and Administrator Education, Certification and Licensure and Development.

Professional Development: For renewal of a five-year educator license as a school counselor 3 semester hours in content or job/skill related area OR 5 continuing education units in content or job/skill related area OR completion of the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) process for National Certified School Counselor (NCSC) is required. Details are outlined in Licensure Guidelines (436) .

Student-to-Counselor Ratio: The Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards (Process Standards 6.1 and 6.2) requires each high school to provide at a minimum, a ½ time licensed guidance counselor and requires students in elementary schools to have access to qualified student support personnel which includes guidance counselors, social workers, nurses, psychologists, psychometrists and others.

Requirements for School Psychologists

Pre-service Requirement
: The minimum requirements for a five year educator license as a school psychologist, a candidate must have completed an approved specialist degree program in school psychology, passed the Praxis I, and passed the Praxis II specialty area test for school psychology. Details are outlined in Licensure Guidelines (451) .

Professional Development: For renewal of a five-year educator license as a school psychologist, 3 semester hours in content area or job/skill related area or 5 continuing education units in the content area or job/skill related area are required. Details are outlined in Licensure Guidelines (451) .

Student-to-Psychologist Ratio: The Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards (Process Standards 6.2) requires students in elementary schools to have access to qualified student support personnel, which includes guidance counselors, social workers, nurses, psychologists, psychometrists and others.

Requirements for School Social Workers
Pre-service Requirement: The state does not have a policy specifically outlining the requirements for a school social worker. For licensure as a social worker in the state, a candidate must: provide verification of a baccalaureate degree in social work from a college or university accredited by Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and scored a minimum of 70 on the ASWB basic exam. Social Work Licensing provides further details.
Professional Development: None specified.
Student-to-Social Worker Ratio: The Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards (Process Standards 6.2) requires students in elementary schools to have access to qualified student support personnel, which includes guidance counselors, social workers, nurses, psychologists, psychometrists and others.

Requirements for Food Service Personnel
Pre-service Requirement: The minimum requirements for candidacy as a building level food service manager is a high school diploma or equivalent as detailed in State Board of Education Policy EE-2 (1991).
Professional Development: State Board of Education Policy EE-2 requires managers to attend a 24-hour course during the first year of employment and complete an additional 24 hours every three years.

Requirements for Athletic Coaches
Pre-service Requirement:  None specified.
Professional Development:  None specified.

HEALTH PROMOTING ENVIROMENT

School Food Services/School Food Environment
Food Services: State Board Policy on Competitive Foods and Extra Food Sales EEH (1985) requires school food service staff to only serve foods that are components of approved federal meal patterns and any additional foods needed to meet the caloric requirement of the age group being served.

Special Populations: None specified.

Vending Machines/School Stores: None specified.

Other Food Sales: At a minimum, the State Board Policy on Competitive Foods and Extra Food Sales EEH (1985) declares that no food items will be sold on school campus for 1 hour before the start of any meal service period. Local boards are encouraged to develop more comprehensive restrictions.

Physical Activity Other Than Physical Education
Interscholastic Athletics: None specified.

Physical Activity – The 1998 Kindergarten guidelines require 45 minutes of physical activity for kindergarten students.

Recess: None specified.

Safe, Orderly, and Drug-Free Schools
Code §37-11-18.1 (2003) requires s student who does not comply with a behavior modification plan deemed habitually disruptive and subject to automatic expulsion on the 3rd occurrence of disruptive behavior during the school year. Disruptive behavior includes threatening, defiant or abusive language or action toward teachers.

State Board Policy JGF-1 (2002) defines and implements the Unsafe School Option as mandated in No Child Left Behind.

Bullying/Harassment: Code §37-11-20 (1972) states that it is unlawful for any person to intimidate, threaten or coerce, or attempt to do such things, to any person enrolled in any school for the purposes of interfering with the right of that person to attend school classes or of causing him not to attend such classes.

Fighting/Gangs: Code §37-11-55g (2002) requires local school boards to adopt and make available to all teachers, school personnel, students, and parents/guardians a code of student conduct that includes: policies and procedures specifically concerning gang-related activities in schools, on school property or vehicles, or at school-related activities.

Weapons: State Board Policy EBBH (1990) prohibits the possession of pistols, firearms or weapons by any person on school premises or at school functions. Code §37-11-18 (1996) requires any student who possesses a knife, a handgun, other firearm or any other instrument considered to be dangerous and capable of causing bodily harm or who commit a violent act on educational property be subject to automatic expulsion for one calendar year. The superintendent of the school is authorized to modify the period of time for expulsion on a case-by-case basis. Further, Code §37-15-9 (2003) does not require a school district to admit a student if he/she was expelled for an act involving violence, weapons, or other activity.

Code §97-37-17 (2000) prohibits any person possess or carry any gun, rifle, pistol, or other firearm or explosive on educational property. Violators are guilty of a felony, punishable by a fine up to $5,000 and/or three years Imprisonment. Likewise, possessing or carrying other weapons, such as a BB gun, air gun, or knife, is a misdemeanor offense, punishable with a fine up to $1,000 and/or six months imprisonment. A person encourages, aids, or causes a minor to possess or carry any weapon listed in subsection 5 is also guilty of a misdemeanor. Exceptions to the possession or carrying law are cases when the person is not a student attending school on any educational property, the firearm is within a motor vehicle, and when the person does not brandish, display, or exhibit the firearm in any careless, angry, or threatening manner.

Drugs and Alcohol: Code §37-11-18 requires any student who possesses any controlled substance be subject to automatic expulsion for one calendar year. The superintendent of the school is authorized to modify the period of time for expulsion on a case-by-case basis.

Collaboration with Law Enforcement
Code §37-11-29 (1996) requires superintendents to report unlawful activity to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

Crisis Management/Emergency Response
Response and Management Plans:
Code § 37-3-83 (2001) requires that the school board of each school district shall adopt a comprehensive local school district school safety plan and shall update the plan on an annual basis.

Reporting Incidents of Violence: Code §37-11-29 (1996) requires all school employees who have knowledge of any unlawful activity that occurred on educational property or during a school-related activity to report such activity to the superintendent. Unlawful activity includes possession or use of a deadly weapon, aggravated assault, simple assault, rape, sexual battery, and others. State Board Policy JDF-1 (1994) developed a form to report school violence.

Tobacco Use
Criminal Code §97-32-9 (2000) prohibits students from possessing tobacco on any educational property. Code §97-32-29 (2000) further prohibits the use of tobacco on any educational property for adults who, if in violation, would be subject to a fine and issued a citation by a law enforcement officer. Educational property is defined as any public school building or bus, campus, grounds, athletic field, or other property used or operated during a school-related activity. Note: This policy meets CDC's definition of a tobacco-free schools policy.

Air Quality
Code §37-17-6(2) (2000) requires school districts to provide air conditioning in all classrooms in each school.

Pesticide Use
No state policy.

Playground / Facility Safety
State Board Policy CRB-3 (2001 revision) renames Accreditation Bulletin 171 as Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards, the current accreditation policy. State Department Process Standards 36 evaluates school districts facilities, safe and orderly schools as one of the Process Standards that all state school districts are required to be in compliance with to maintain their accreditation by the State Department of Education through the Commission on School Accreditation.

STUDENT SERVICES

Screening for Health Conditions
Vision and Hearing: Code §41-79-5 (2000) requires school nurse intervention services to provide hearing and vision screening services.

Chronic Health Conditions: No state policy.

Body Mass Index (BMI) Screening: No state policy.

Drugs: No state policy.

Administration of Medications
Staff Administration: Public Health Code §41-79-1 (1988) states that a school nurse can provide preventive health services to students to facilitate optimal development and prevent serious health problems. Public Health Code §41-79-3 (2000) authorizes each school district to have employed a school nurse, known as the Health Service Coordinator, in compliance with the school nurse intervention program established by the State Department of Health. The code requires the program offers preventive services that includes assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating programs and other school health activities, in collaboration with other professionals, appropriate to each grade level and the age of maturity of the pupil.

Self-Administration: Public Health Code §41-79-31 (2003) states that the school board of each local public school district shall permit the self-administration of medication by a student provided that written authorization is given by a parent or guardian and a written statement is given by a health care practitioner indicating that the student has received instruction in self-administration, states the name and purpose of the medication, the dosage, the time the medication is to be administered, and the length of time for which the medication is prescribed. The code further protects the school district and its employees by informing the parents that no liability shall be incurred as a result of any injury caused by the student self-administering medication. The code also allows students with asthma to possess and use asthma medications when at school, at a school-sponsored activity, and under the supervision of school personnel before or after normal school activities while on school properties.

Psychotropic Medications: No state policy.

Storage and Record-keeping: No state policy.

Counseling and Mental Health Services
Requirement to Provide Services: Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards (2004) require each high school to provide student support services by a minimum of a ½ time by a licensed guidance counselor, and at the elementary level, by qualified school personnel such as guidance counselors, social workers, nurses, psychologists, psychometrists, etc. Code §37-9-79 (2002) lists the counseling services guidance counselors are required to provide.

Code §37-9-79 requires school counselors to provide student assessment and assessment counseling (which includes personal/social issues, academic, and career issues) and requires school counselors to provide preventive counseling and crisis intervention services.

HIV, STD, and Pregnancy Testing and Counseling: Mississippi does not require schools or districts to provide voluntary HIV, STD, or pregnancy testing to students. Public Health Code §41-79-5 (2000) prohibits school nurses from providing abortion counseling or referring a student to abortion counseling or clinics. State law also does not prohibit teachers or counselors from discussing any topics with students.

Immunity of Liability: No state policy.

Immunization
School-entry into K or 1st Grade: Public Health Code §41-23-37 (1983) prohibits any child from attending any public or private school, from kindergarten or the equivalent, without the vaccination of specified diseases, including the hepatitis B vaccine, as specified in Code §83-9-34 (1999).

Older Children: No state policy.

ACCOMODATION

Staff with HIV

Code §37-11-17 (1987) allows the State Board of Education or county boards of education to require any teacher or other school district employee to submit a thorough examination to determine whether he or she has any infectious or communicable disease.

State Board of Education Policy JGCC (1997) requires the department of education to develop model guidelines for dealing with HIV infection and communicable disease control.

Students with HIV
Although the state does not have a policy specifically addressing students with HIV< State Board of Education Policy JGCC (1997) does require the department of education to develop model guidelines for dealing with HIV infection and communicable disease control.

Pregnant or Parenting Students
No state policy.

Individual Health Plan for Students
Public Health Code §41-79-5 (2000) requires the school nurse to develop individualized health plans.

COORDINATION / IMPLEMENTATION

Coordinating or Advisory Councils

State-level: Public Health Code §41-105-1 (2002) creates the state-level Healthcare Coordinating Council to provide recommendations in establishing a comprehensive preventive healthcare plan.

Code §7-1-553 (1992) establishes the Governor’s Commission on Physical Fitness and Sports. The Commission’s role is to encourage state agencies and local governments to emphasize regular physical and sports participation, encourages the development of community recreation, physical fitness and sports participation programs, and assist education agencies in developing realistic, high quality innovative health and physical education programs.

Code §41-101-1 (2004) creates the Mississippi Council on Obesity Prevention and Management within the State Department of Health to establish recommendations to assure that school age children who show early signs of obesity have access to affordable, effective prevention and management services and provide suggestions for changes in statewide elementary and secondary curricula to include comprehensive, coordinated obesity awareness

Code §41-103-1 (2004) creates the Task Force on Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention to coordinate efforts in heart disease and stroke education, prevention and treatment. The Task Force shall include a representative from the state Department of Education.

Local-level: Code §37-13-135 (1990) requires each school board to appoint a local health education council that serves to make recommendations for the comprehensive health education curriculum. SB 2339 (2003) also provides recommendations for health curriculum by allowing local school boards to establish a local school health/physical education advisory council.

Code §37-13-134 requires local school boards to establish a school health councils whose duties may comprise of making curriculum recommendations for physical education, recommends appropriate practices for coordinated school health, and guidance or the development of the local school wellness plan.

School Health Program Coordinators
State-level: Code §37-13-134 (2003) asks the state Department of Education to request federal funds to employ a physical activity coordinator who should, at a minimum, possess a BA in physical education, a teacher’s license, & at least 7 years in teaching physical education or in physical activity promotion/fitness leadership in grades K-12. The coordinator is to present to designated commissions and councils a state physical activity plan each year. The coordinator is also responsible for monitoring districts for compliance to the current state accountability standards and for the implementation of the physical education curriculum.

Local-level: Public Health Code §41-79-5 (2000) requires each public school district to employ a school nurse to serve as the Health Service Coordinator.

Confidentiality
Student Health-Related Records: Appendix E of the Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards requires student records to be collected, maintained, and disseminated in compliance with FERPA and the confidentiality section of IDEA.

Student Health-Related Services: As a reinforcement of FERPA, IX. Confidentiality of the Policies and Procedures regarding Children with Disabilities under IDEA (2003) iterates that the MDE will protect the confidentiality of any personally identifiable data, information, and records collected or maintained related to students with disabilities.

Limitations on Student Surveys
No state policy.
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