In anticipation of romance -- and potentially more -- during Valentine's Day, a high school in Minneapolis next week is making condoms available to its students, free and without parental approval.
Augsburg Fairview Academy, an alternative-learning charter school near E. 25th Street and Chicago Avenue, is receiving a shipment of complimentary prophylactics from NuVo Condoms as part of the New York company's nationwide "education" campaign.
Augsburg Fairview and Socorro High School in El Paso, Texas, so far are the only schools that have taken NuVo up on its offer.
"My whole mission with my students is to educate them," said Jenny Andersen, Augsburg Fairview's social worker who initiated contact with NuVo about receiving the free condoms. "We are a school that is focused on empowerment and making healthy choices."
Accompanying each condom will be a NuVo-produced pamphlet that includes information about sexually transmitted diseases, abstinence, as well as the message for users, "Don't stay in the dark: 'GET IT ON.' "
Andersen, who is in her first year at Augsburg Fairview, added that "this is a tiny part of what we do [at the school]. I do interventions all the time around mental, physical and sexual health."
Andersen said the school's executive director, Bart Johnson, approved the distribution of NuVo's full line of condoms.
Permission from parents will not be needed before condoms are given to students, Andersen said, explaining that the vast majority of the 130 or so pupils at the school are 17 to 21 years old.
The condoms will be given out to any student who requests one, she said.
"It's not like all students will be handed a condom," Andersen said, adding that the plan "is to do something on Thursday [Valentine's Day], with quizzes on healthy relationships and things like that."
Officials with the state Department of Education and the School Nurse Organization of Minnesota said they do not track schools and condom availability. However, they know of no districts whose employees give away condoms, either with or without parental approval.
Public high schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul house community-based health clinics that -- along with a long list of other services -- provide free condoms to students on request and without parental approval.
At St. Paul's high schools, the on-site clinics are run by West Side Community Health Services, said School District spokeswoman Toya Stewart Downey.
"They may be distributed [only by clinic staff] when reproductive topics are brought up by the student," Stewart Downey said.
Similar services in the Minneapolis high schools are provided by the city's health department, except for North High School, which houses a clinic operated by North Point Health and Wellness Center.
Barb Kyle, the health department's school-based clinic manager, said she views the free availability as a "sound public health practice."
Paul Walsh 612-673-4482