For Schools & Teachers

Curriculum Study with Health & Physical Education Teachers in Central Virginia

Children are among the highest-risk populations for contracting a tick-borne disease. Increased time spent outdoors playing and their general lack of knowledge about ticks and tick-borne diseases increase their risk. Children must be taught early how to identify a tick, proper prevention techniques, and safe tick removal.  In January 2022, the Virginia legislature passed Bill HB 850 that will require the Secretary of Education, in collaboration with the Secretary of Health and Human Resources and the Secretary of Natural Resources, to help school boards and local and regional public libraries establish an education and awareness program to protect children from Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases by 2028.  

Ticks in Virginia wants to help teachers and schools with free, evidence-based instructional materials and curricula that can be implemented this year. In the fall of 2022, a survey was distributed to Central Virginia health and physical education (HPE) teachers to assess their knowledge and awareness of TBDs and their willingness to implement a curriculum about TBDs in the future. The University of Lynchburg's Institutional Review Board approved the study.

A total of 40 Central VA HPE teachers participated in the survey. Only 10% of the teachers had ever incorporated any tick-borne disease information into their curriculum. Two out of every three teachers said they would be willing to implement a TBD curriculum. A website with downloadable resources was the most popular choice as a method of receiving the curriculum (66.7%), second was receiving a paper copy (12.8%), and third was an in-person presentation (12.8%).  

"Fight the Bight" curriculum and instructional materials have been developed for varying grade levels and are currently being piloted with future teachers and children in Central Virginia. The curriculum and materials will be available for download here later in 2024.  

Principal Investigators

This study is led by Co-Principal Investigators, Associate Professor of Public Health, Dr. Jennifer Hall, and Assistant Professor of Health & Physical Education, Dr. Katherine Bowman (pictured) from the University of Lynchburg. Master of Public Health Student, Emma Hiett, has provided research and curriculum development support. Her undergraduate degree was in Health & Physical Education from the University of Lynchburg. Dr. Bowman is leading the curricular design and development of age-appropriate instructional materials and curriculum that is in line with the Standards of Learning.