On Dec. 12, the Kansas Board of Education passed a mandate requiring cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, to be taught in all Kansas high schools starting in the 2018-2019 school year.

The course will be taught under the health and physical education curriculum and will be taught by staff at the schools. Students will learn basic chest compressions in a 30-minute session while working with dummies that give immediate feedback.

"It's critical for everyone to be safe. If we have every student take the training, it will save many lives," said Jim Porter, District 9 chairman of the Kansas Board of Education. "Virtually every student will be a potential life saver."

The American Heart Association has donated $25,000 worth of materials for schools to complete this necessary training. Schools will be able to choose how and when this curriculum is taught, but students will be required to take this course in order to graduate.

"The bottom line is that many more people have the opportunity to have the skills necessary to save lives in an emergency beyond just school," Porter said. "It's a positive step and we appreciate the resources provided by the American Heart Association to implement this effectively and quickly."

At Smoky Valley High School in Lindsborg, principal Bill Nelson said students are already learning how to perform CPR in their health education class and hopes other students across the state will reap similar benefits.

"Currently, our freshman take a CPR unit. They are not certified, but they are taught it by our physical education teacher in our first aid unit," Nelson said.

Although students are already learning this curriculum, Nelson said it could be beneficial for all high schools across Kansas.

"I think its an excellent thing. We've taught this for years as long as I've been here — its important here now, but now the state is just saying it needs to be important everywhere," Nelson said.

For more information visit the Kansas Board of Education website at http://ksde.org.

Contact Brooke Haas by email at bhaas@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.