Health and P.E. outreach to parents continues with Dangers of Vaping Webinar

Posted: January 12, 2024

Newport News Public Schools Health and Physical Education Department in partnership with the American Heart Association will host The Dangers of Vaping Webinar on January 17 at 6 p.m. as the department continues its informational outreach to parents.

The American Heart Association describes vaping as an "epidemic" in the U.S., especially among teens. Parents can register for the webinar and submit questions for the panelists in advance.

The topic is the latest in a series of webinars this school year with previous ones on human trafficking awareness and family life education. It further demonstrates how Health and Physical Education has expanded its sharing of information for families to match its curriculum and evolving requests for resources, according to Jennifer Mulrine, Health and P.E. instructional supervisor.

"In response to data shared with us from the Department of Student Conduct and Discipline team and a conversation we had with the American Heart Association, we have partnered to provide parents with information about vaping, signs of its use to look for in their students and our NNPS policies around vaping," Mulrine said.

Dr. Jaraun Ransome, program administrator for Student Conduct and Discipline, collaborated with Mulrine on ways to combat vaping in schools. Disciplinary infractions for vaping are on the rise, particularly after students have returned from breaks, according to school division data.

Just after winter break and before the school division's participation in the Kids Heart Challenge during American Hearth Month in February made January a prime time to talk about vaping, which is taught as part of the health Standards of Learning curriculum.

Webinar attendees will learn what vapes are, what negatives vaping can cause, NNPS policies and what resources are available. Panelists will be Mulrine, NNPS Supervisor of Health Services Nancy Carlson, NNPS Coordinator of Student Conduct and Discipline Shayla Woodard, and representatives from the American Heart Association including local board members and several physicians.

To address the needs of students and their families, Health and Physical Education has branched out into many areas of health not traditionally associated with gym class.

"The vaping webinar is in response to a need to decrease disciplinary infractions," Mulrine said. "We are a team at NNPS, working together to help support, educate and make a difference in the lives of our students."

In October, educators provided additional information and resources on the school division's optional family life education in a webinar. The topic is taught through Health and P.E. and is part of the Standards of Learning curriculum.

In a November webinar revamped from a presentation a year earlier, the department partnered with Freekind, a nonprofit that educates the community to increase awareness, prevention and advocacy to fight human trafficking together. The topic is taught using the Prevention Project in grades 6 through 8.

Another example is that Health and Physical Education works with Human Resources to facilitate hands-on CPR opportunities for teachers for re-licensure as well as in Health I, which includes first aid and CPR training that is a requirement for students to graduate.

Offering more in-depth information on topics of interest is in the works for students and parents.

"We're more than sports," Mulrine said.