The Arkansas Act 1220 of 2003 launched comprehensive efforts to curb childhood obesity. As a result, Arkansas district wellness committees are required to conduct assessments at the building and district level using CDC’s School Health Index (SHI). These assessments are traditionally completed through quarterly trainings on CSH topics. However, the COVID-19 pandemic dictated that the trainings be conducted virtually for the 2020–2021 school year. Fortunately, Arkansas was able to streamline each of the four quarterly CSH trainings from 6 hours to 3 hours, which increased participation from the previous school year by more than 25%, as shown below.

Young children sitting and smiling and holding a volleyball.
Training Date Topic Outcomes August 2020   School Health Index and Wellness Reporting Mandates  An increase of 14 districts and 28 participants  from August 2019 November  2020  Increasing Health and Physical  Activity in the Classroom  An increase of 41 districts and 39 participants  from November 2019  February  2021  Family and Community  Engagement for the WSCC Model  An increase of 60 districts and 92 participants  from February 2020  May 2021  Human Trafficking and School Safety  An increase of 21 districts and 25 participants  from May 2019 (no May 2020 training due to the outbreak of COVID-19)

The impact of these virtual trainings can be shown through the words of people who participated in them.

“I am now able to improve my wellness policy goals to be  more specific and with measurable objectives and outcomes.”  – Debbie McAdams, El Dorado Priority District  CSH Meeting August 2020, School Health  Index and Wellness Reporting Mandates  “As a pre-K teacher, I gained knowledge of PE and PA  assessments and activities. This gives me an idea of what  I need to observe while doing their activity, for example  skipping, running, or jumping, and so on.”  – Leticia Pinto, private school preschool teacher  July 2020, Effective Physical Education and  Increasing Physical Activity in Classroom Instruction  “This training brought to light  several things I want to implement in  the classroom. There were several  good ideas thrown around and  discussed in our breakout sessions.”  – Patrick Thomas, Harmony Grove School District  CSH Meeting November 2020, Increasing Health and Physical Activity in the Classroom  “I now know how to use the School  Health Index as a tool to help me  assess our school’s needs and plan.”  – Jayme Brown, Clinton School District  July 2020, Comprehensive School Physical Activity Planning training

What's Next?

When in-person CSH trainings resume, they will revert to a 6-hour format. However, Arkansas will still offer a virtual training option. The additional three hours for in-person trainings will include small-group technical assistance to develop more specific health-focused policy based on the needs of the individual district, create comprehensive school physical activity programs, and provide skill training for all school personnel.