MADISON, Wis. - For years, nurses in the Madison Metropolitan School District have watched sexually transmitted infection rates climb.
To try and combat that, students at West High School will be able to get condoms from school nurses for free starting this fall.
“We'd been thinking about doing a program like this for several years,” said Sally Zirbel-Donisch, the health services coordinator for the district. “Then with the increase in the number of young people with STIs, or sexually transmitted infections, we decided it was time to begin.”
The first time students ask for condoms, it will come with a refresher on sex education, including sexual and reproductive health and consent.
The condoms come free for the school district, donated from outside agency partners, and since there are already nurses at the schools, it doesn't cost the district to add the program, according to Zirbel-Donisch.
The nurse and principal at West High School were excited the program, which made it the best choice to the district, but it will consider expanding to others if the program goes well, especially given the need districtwide.
The 2018 Dane County Youth Assessment showed 35 percent of high schoolers reported having sex, but only 55 percent of high schoolers always use a condom to prevent STIs.
Zirbel-Donisch said so far parents are happy kids will have somewhere besides their friends and social media to learn from, and that's what News 3 Now heard from parents too, like Sergio Tirado, whose son will be a sophomore at West this fall.
“Kids are, I don't know how to tell you,” Tirado said. “But the kids are doing a lot of crazy things.”
Parents of kids at other high schools who are interested in this program will have to wait until the end of this year to see if the program will continue.