Hastings School Board reviews student health survey results

By John McLoone

Hastings School District students are more stressed and feel less safe in school than a year ago.

The Hastings School Board was scheduled to review the 2022 Student Wellness Survey results at its meeting Wednesday, June 22.

Students districtwide were surveyed in the spring.

The report to the school board noted that COVID cases in district schools were up dramatically in the 202122 school year. There were 1,451 reported cases, compared to 312 in the 202021 school year when the pandemic first impacted students and schools.

At the elementary level, the survey showed that students are very active, as 95 percent of students listed at least one physical activity they do outside of gym class or recess. Listed under room for improvement at the elementary level are that the amount of students who feel safe or mostly safe droped from 93 percent in 202021 to 77 percent in 202122. Also, it was noted that there is no elementary school health curriculum.

At the elementary level, the board report showed that 173 third and fourth graders from Kennedy Elementary were surveyed. Students reported a variety of different physical activities, from walking to school to playing outside and participating in sports.

On whether they eat fruit and vegetables, only 9.4 percent answered that they didn’t have any the day before. The dominant answer was six or more fruits and vegetables, which was the answer of 26.9 percent of respondents.

On whether students felt safe at school, 29.2 percent answered they always feel safe, down from 43.1 percent in 2019. Additionally, 48 percent answered that the mostly feel safe. That number was 36.5 percent in 2019. There were 1.8 percent of responses that they don’t feel at all safe, down from 3.2 percent in 2019.

At the middle school level, there were 682 responses tabulated.

On the question of if students have the opportunities to eat healthy food at school, 57.8 percent either agreed or strongly agreed. Just 20.7 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed.

Students definitely feel they have opportunities to be physically active, as 85.5 percent agreed or strongly agreed with that statement.

Asked what their level of stress at the moment was, 22.6 reported they were “not at all stressed,” which 28.6 percent reported being “a little stressed,” 24.5 percent were “somewhat stressed,” 17.9 percent were “pretty stressed” and 6.5 percent were “super stressed out.”

Asked if they have “healthy coping skills” to manage stress, 21.7 percent strongly agreed, while 34.5 agreed. There were 18.9 percent of the students who disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement.

On the question of whether they feel safe, 7.9 percent strongly disagreed, 6.9 percent disagreed, 21.3 percent neither agreed or disagreed, 31.2 percent agreed and 32.7 percent strongly agreed.

The middle school student cell phone use showed the following answers to the statement “I am on my cell phone:” Never (no cell phone) 10.7 percent, hardly ever 20.4 percent, sometimes 32.3 percent, frequently 29.5 percent and constantly 7.2 percent.

There were 526 responses to the Student Wellness Survey at the Hastings High School level.

On the topic of being given opportunities to eat healthy food, 60.9 percent agreed or strongly agreed, while 18.8 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed.

As to whether they feel they have the opportunities to be physically active, 81.2 percent agreed or strongly agreed, and just 8.2 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed.

Asked what their “stress level right now” was, students answers were: “not at all stressed” 5.5 percent, “a little stressed” 24.5 percent, “somewhat stressed” 26.2 percent, “pretty stressed” 27 percent and “super stressed out” 16.7 percent.

Asked if they have healthy coping skills to manage stress, 48.5 percent agreed or strongly agreed, while 25.5 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed. The source of the student stress was listed as testing, homework and busy schedules.

The high school students mostly feel safe, as 17.9 percent strongly agreed with the statement and 39.2 percent agreed. There were 15 percent of the students who disagreed or strongly disagreed.

More than half of high school students are on their cell phone frequently (49 percent) or constantly (4.9 percent), while 40.1 percent reported they are on their phone sometimes, 4.9 percent were on the phone hardly ever and 1 percent reported not having a phone.

Students were asked what could be done to improve their overall wellbeing. Answers ranged from talking about mental health more and offering more healthy lunches and have more required physical education classes.

The district’s Smart Choices committee plans to continue to review the surveys and develop goals to address the safety and stress areas. The group will develop a presentation to the school board, parents and community.

June 22, 2022