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Hall Schools to start pilot health program soon

UnitedHealth chose the county system to pilot initiative

POSTED: March 15, 2011 12:15 a.m.

Hall County students at Friendship Elementary School will soon shape up with a new health program — making the district one of the first in the nation to try it.

Hall County Schools is expected to sign a formal contract with the UnitedHealth Group, a national health care company, on March 28.

The company is working to combat childhood obesity with a new wellness initiative and chose Hall County Schools for the pilot, based on the district's diverse population. UnitedHealth secured grant funding for the program.

Hall County spokesman Gordon Higgins said at Monday's school board work session that the partnership is generating national conversation.

"If this works, it could be something that goes across the board," he said, referring to districts across the country. "National health care providers are excited about this."

Over the past several months, the district has held focus groups with UnitedHealth to get feedback and ideas for the program, including groups of local health professionals, parents and school staff.

Higgins said the first pilot will be at Friendship Elementary this spring.

"It's an ideal place to start," he said.

The school recently began an initiative to couple its academics with a focus on health and wellness.

Higgins said the details of the program are still in discussion.

"It will depend on the resources they bring to us," he said.

One of the first steps is to hire a health care manager, with funds from the organization, Higgins said. The manager will help implement the program and facilitate relationships with the community.

The initiative will also be led by school nurses who will collect health information from students.

The health program is slated to roll out to kindergarten through 8th graders this fall, and will ultimately be offered to all Hall County students, Higgins said.

In other business, the school board discussed some of the system's summer construction projects.

West Hall High School will receive a new roof and heating and air conditioning system, which is projected to cost about $2.2 million. Renovations will also take place at North Hall and East Hall middle schools for plumbing, heating and air conditioning.



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