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NVUSD Meets State Mandates with Innovative Ethnic Studies and Health Education Courses


The Napa Valley Unified School District (NVUSD) is piloting new courses in ethnic studies and health education across its five high schools. This reflects a significant shift towards a more inclusive and comprehensive curriculum. The initiative aligns with California's educational mandates—AB101 for ethnic studies and the California Healthy Youth Act for health education. The new legislation aims to foster a more aware, inclusive, and healthy student community.

The ethnic studies course is a one-semester class.  A district committee based the course on the California model curriculum for ethnic studies. It encompasses African American, Chicana/o/x and Latina/o/x, Native American, and Asian American and Pacific Islander studies. The course also studies the histories, cultures, struggles, and contributions of historically marginalized groups. This content encourages students to explore identity, land, systems, and solidarity.  Each theme has a unit exploring profound questions about personal and societal transformation.

The health education course is also a semester-long requirement. In line with the California Healthy Youth Act, it addresses comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention. The course also provides mental health instruction, fulfilling Senate Bill 224's requirements. It also covers a broad spectrum of topics from personal and community health to growth, development, and sexual health.

Feedback from the pilot phase has been positive. Students have expressed how these courses have impacted them deeply. In particular, they appreciate how the courses promote self-discovery, understanding of others, and a sense of community. One student shared, "Ethnic Studies has impacted me by allowing me to delve more into my community's history and how it has shaped our country today." Another noted, "Health Education helped me understand more about my own health and others. Also, it will help me in the future if I decide to become a doctor or something associated with the medical field."

Teachers highlighted the importance of these courses in addressing social-emotional wellbeing and developing empathy. They also noted how the courses promote a sense of belonging and connectedness within the school community.

The new classes have also sparked new career interests among students. This further underscores the relevance and need for such courses in today's educational landscape.

As we continue to refine and expand these courses, the feedback from both students and staff will be invaluable. We aim to ensure that the curriculum meets the state's educational requirements. We also want them to resonate with and meet the needs of our diverse student population. This pioneering effort by NVUSD sets a promising precedent for other districts, demonstrating the power of education to foster a more just, healthy, and inclusive society.

  • 02 - Middle Schools
  • 03 - High Schools