Online Health is Still Insufficient

As the summer comes to an end, almost 200 students have taken online health through the school. Though the number of students taking this course has no sign of changing, the curriculum itself lacks useful information. The school district must revisit the curriculum it provides to revise and add to its content.

The curriculum, from the vendor OdysseyWare, does not include important components of health education. In particular, the sex education portion of the curriculum is too limited to be of service to students. Only covering abstinence and condoms as a means of birth control, the curriculum does not meet any qualifications to be a considered a legitimate form of sex education. Though the course is not technically a sex education class, its lack of proper sexual protection education is a disservice to students.

In the semester-long course offered at the high school, students are informed of sixteen methods of FDA approved birth control including emergency

contraception and more permanent contraceptives. Online health, while a shorter alternative, should provide students with access to that same amount of information. In addition, the online curriculum still lacks any information on lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) experiences, which are covered by the semester-long course. LGBT students are left unattended to in the online health curriculum.

Since the online course is technically not a sex education course, the district argues that it is not required to fully cover sex education in a health course. However, as the online health course does discuss sex education, it should provide students with a full understanding of the topic to match its semester-long counterpart. The semester-long health class provides a much more comprehensive sex education curriculum.

As a class that relates directly to the personal lives of students, health education must contain as much useful information for students as possible. The MVLA online health curriculum does not provide such information. The district should look for a different vendor with a better curriculum, or supplement OdysseyWare’s curriculum with sex education information similar to what is offered in the semester-long course.

Despite the shortcomings of the online course, the number of students taking the course has not been affected. Students should be able to take the class most convenient for them without sacrificing educational value. With school coming to a start, the number of students taking the district online health course is approximately the same as those enrolled in the semester-long course. With students continually relying on online health education, the district must make great progress in the upcoming year in reviewing and adding to its online curriculum.