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Oklahoma City Public Schools looks to update wellness policy

The Oklahoma City School Board is considering changes to the district wellness policy.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL ccoppernoll@opubco.com Published: March 13, 2013
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Dawn Chernicky hates to see students standing against the wall during recess.

The physical education coordinator for Oklahoma City Public Schools said she asks children why they're not playing, and often it's because they're in trouble. Keeping kids from being active isn't a solution, she said.

“It's really important for kids to have physical activity every single day,” Chernicky said.

Divorcing exercise and punishment is one of the proposed changes to district policy that the Oklahoma City School Board is considering under a new wellness policy.

A district wellness policy was first instated in 2006, and a wellness committee began meeting in 2010 to update it.

The proposed policy, introduced this year, has more than doubled in length, adding stipulations about everything from school lunches to recess time. The school board could vote on the policy as early as next month.

The proposed policy has overarching goals but also specific edicts, such as the following:

Elementary school students will have at least an hour of P.E. and an hour of health and wellness education each week.

A district wellness committee of students, staff and community members will track progress throughout the district.

Physical activity, such as doing pushups or running laps, can't be used as punishment, and recess and gym class can't be withheld for students as punishment.

The policy also reiterates the need for healthy food, an echo of federal guideline changes that require schools to trim salt and fat and boost offerings of fruits and vegetables.

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