June 29, 2022
Student health and wellness has been prioritized across the Rochester City School District. Last Thursday, June 23rd, the RCSD School Board unanimously approved the newly revised District Wellness Policy.
The revised policy adopts ALL of the recommendations put forward by the Healthi Kids Coalition. The recommendations, developed by RCSD parent leaders demanded the district do better to prioritize the health and well-being of students in the district and ensure greater accountability for the policy’s implementation.
The policy now:
- Supports better communication and transparency with families on how the wellness policy is being implemented
- Incorporates the importance of play-based learning
- Requires teachers to incorporate play-based learning in the classroom
- Prohibits food being used as a reward or punishment tool
- Prohibits physical activity from being taken away as a form of punishment (e.g., recess)
- Establishes a RCSD Meals Advisory Council to improve school meals
- Creates an active transportation policy
- Crosswalks policies within the New York State Department of Educations Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Framework and the district’s Code of Conduct
- Requires schools to offer healthy celebrations and non-food related celebrations
- Prohibits unhealthy marketing to students
- Creates a breastfeeding and nursing policy for all students and staff
- Encourages professional development for staff to support the implementation of nutrition education, physical activity, social emotional health, and health education
- Is up to date and amended to reflect USDA nutrition standards and NYSED physical education requirements
- Requires school buildings to share menus with students and families
- Shares Food Services will work to develop and implement culturally responsive meals, flavor stations in schools, and explore farm to school opportunities
- Encourages building level staff to work with support services to identify available services to address health related issues within the classroom
A local wellness policy is required by federal legislation. The policy is required to create a policy to outline their goals and strategies to advance student health and wellness in their school district. The USDA has specific requirements local school districts must meet in their wellness policy. We are thrilled RCSD is now up to date with current federal requirements with the adoption of the new policy.
However, a policy is only as good as its implementation. Healthi Kids parent advocates and coalition members will continue to push the district to ensure the district wellness policy is implemented with fidelity in all school buildings, and that families know about the contents of the policy.