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Kearney school board approves new health curriculum standards

The Kearney school board Monday adopted a new set of health education curriculum standards for...
The Kearney school board Monday adopted a new set of health education curriculum standards for students in district schools.(KSNB)
Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 2:03 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 15, 2022 at 3:22 PM CST
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - As promised, the Kearney Public School district has created its own health curriculum standards. The school board approved them at Monday night’s meeting on a 7-0 vote.

The new standards describe what students will be taught in each grade between Kindergarten and eighth grade. The standards for ninth through 12th grades were included in a section for high school students.

In the midst of last year’s summer-long controversy about proposed standards developed by the state department of education, Kearney superintendent Kent Edwards said the district would come up with its own curriculum.

The Nebraska State Board of Education began a review and comment process last year on a set of optional standards for local school districts. At public hearings an almost unanimous set of voices criticized the new standards. Much of the public comment reflected concern about what topics regarding sex education would be in the standards and at what age students would be taught those topics.

Opponents were vocal about references to birth control, homophobia, transgender and other topics which were thought by many to be inappropriate. The department later drafted a new version of its proposal which removed much of that terminology. Late summer, the state board of education voted to postpone indefinitely the development of new standards.

The new KPS standards contain none of the controversial topics suggested last year. The standards adopted Monday cover expectations for instruction on a wide range of health related topics including nutrition, exercise, mental health and safety.

The specific grade-by-grade topics regarding sex education include:

  • First, Third and Fourth grade students are taught to identify body areas covered by swim suits which are private
  • In Fourth grade optional instruction for female students only covering reproductive body parts and changes that occur during puberty
  • Fifth grade instruction covering both male and female reproductive body parts and changes that occur during puberty
  • Seventh grade instruction covering sexual harassment and the risks associated with sexual activity
  • High school instruction covering a wide range of topics including abstinence, healthy dating relationships, the female menstrual cycle, STD’s, and regular sexual health screenings.

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