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School District Refutes ‘Big Brother’ Accusations Over Child Health Monitors

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File photo of a child playing on a set of monkey bars. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

File photo of a child playing on a set of monkey bars. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

CBS St. Louis (con't)

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CHESTERFIELD, Mo. (KMOX) – The Parkway School District has denied claims that health monitors issued to elementary school students invade the privacy of the children.

Cathy Kelly, communication coordinator for the school district, said that the three elementary schools using the Polar active monitors have only implemented them during the physical education classes for students in third, fourth and fifth grades.

“They have only been used in class,” Kelly told CBS St. Louis. “We have not asked students to take them home.”

The clarification came following something of an outcry from parents concerned about the privacy of their children.

Cara Bauer, PTO president at Shenandoah Valley Elementary School, told St. Louis Today that she heard about the monitors from her daughter and fifth-grade student Caroline.

“I feel they’re getting into privacy issues, into people’s personal lives, when they have to be worn at home,” Bauer told the paper. “That kind of makes me a little leery, and, though I think the monitors are a fantastic idea in school, I don’t want that at home.”

But according to Kelly, the monitors will stay in school, at least for the time being.

“We’re a couple of years away from having kids take them home, and when we do, we will send a letter home with a permission slip,” she told CBS St. Louis.

Childhood obesity has become an increasingly important issue – and point of contention – throughout the county.

The monitors used by the Parkway students, which are worn like wrist bands, are intended to help them take ownership of their own health and wellness.

“These will help kids … measure their physical activity levels,” Kelly said. “The hope and the goal is to help students engage in moderate to rigorous activity for 50 percent of class … or at least an hour per day. This will (also) help teach kids what moderate or rigorous exercise activity is.”

She clarified to CBS St. Louis the various levels of activity the monitors take stock of, from “rigorous plus” to “very easy.”

Each level is characterized by different conventional childhood activities, from fast running, basketball or dancing on the top end of the spectrum, to playing video games or watching television as examples of activities with minimal positive effects.

“Students will be able to formulate individual fitness goals (with this information),” Kelly explained.

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