Sex ed material included in 5th grade hygiene packets

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By John Barnhart

The school division got an unpleasant surprise in the personal hygiene packets sent home with fifth graders at Otter River Elementary at the end of the school year, according to Ryan Edwards, Bedford County Public Schools' spokesman.

Edwards said that the school system moved the school division's sex education curriculum to the sixth grade last year. A personal hygiene class, however, was still presented. At the end, the children received packets that contained personal hygiene items, such as deodorant and a personal hygiene pamphlet. There were separate packets for boys and girls and the children had been segregated by gender for separate boys and girls presentations.

The opt-out forms sent home with children, prior to the presentation, said nothing about sex ed. This is because the school division did not know that the pamphlets the manufacturers had included in the sealed packets distributed to the students contained sex ed material.

"Our teachers did not inspect the packets," Edwards said.

Edwards said they have received personal hygiene packets from these companies in the past. The sex ed material included this year was a change that the companies had not alerted school officials about.

"We weren't expecting it," he said.

Edwards said that Dr. James Blevins, superintendent of schools, sent out a letter of apology to all the parents. Georgia Hairston, Otter River Elementary School's principal, also sent out letters of apology.