SECTION 1. Chapter 71 of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out section 3, as appearing in the 2010 Official Edition, and inserting in place thereof the following sections:-
Section 3. (a) As used in this section, the following words shall have the following meanings:-
“Age-appropriate”, topics, messages and teaching methods suitable to particular ages or age groups of children and adolescents, based on developing cognitive, emotional and behavioral capacity typical for the age or age group.
“Board”, the board of elementary and secondary education.
“Department'', the department of elementary and secondary education.
(b) Physical education shall be taught as a required subject in all grades for all students in public schools or commonwealth charter schools to promote the physical well-being of the students. Physical education shall be age-appropriate and evidence-based and shall include, but not be limited to, physical activity and fitness and nutrition and wellness. Physical education shall include a focus on physical competence, health-related fitness and enjoyment of physical activity so as to benefit children physically, cognitively, emotionally and socially. A pupil shall not be required to take part in physical education exercises if a primary care provider certifies in writing that in the primary care provider’s opinion the physical education exercises would be injurious to the pupil. The board may promulgate regulations necessary to facilitate this section.
(c) All public schools and commonwealth charter schools shall be required to provide a minimum of 30 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity to all students in K-8 grades to promote the physical well-being of the students. This may be completed without limitations through regular physical education, physical activities, recess, classroom energizers or other curriculum based physical education activity program. The physical activity must involve physical exertion of at least a moderate to vigorous intensity level and for duration sufficient to provide a significant health benefit to students that promote fitness and well-being. Local school boards should establish policies and procedures that help schools promote regular physical activity. Local boards should also require schools to allow time in the curriculum for physical activity and to incorporate these concepts throughout all subjects. Physical activity goals should also be incorporated into school wellness plans. Schools may not use physical activity as a punishment nor withhold opportunities for physical activity as punishment. Local school boards shall encourage schools to schedule recess before lunch.
(d) The Department shall develop and maintain a nutrition and physical activity best practices database. The database shall contain the results of any wellness-related fitness testing done by local school districts, as well as information on successful programs and policies implemented by local school districts designed to improve nutrition and physical activity in the public and charter schools. This information may include but not limited to (i) a description of the program or policy, (ii) advice on implementation, (iii) any assessment of the program or policy, (iv) a contact person from the local school district, and (v) any other information the Department deems appropriate. The database shall be readily accessible to all local school districts Statewide. The Board shall encourage local school districts to submit information to the database. The requirements of database shall become effective once the Department has secured all of the funding necessary to maintain it.
Section 4.. (a) The commissioner of elementary and secondary education, in conjunction with the commissioner of public health, shall conduct an evaluation of current physical education standards, practices and the instruction provided to students in grades pre-kindergarten to 12, inclusive. The evaluation shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
(1) current school district practices concerning physical education in public schools, including physical education course offerings, class duration and frequency and the physical space and time allotted, if any, for public school students to participate in recess each week; and
(2) the appropriate levels of physical education and activity for all children of the commonwealth.
(b) The commissioner of elementary and secondary education shall report the results of the evaluation by filing the report with the clerks of the senate and the house of representatives who shall forward copies of the report to the chairs of the joint committee on education and the joint committee on public health not later than April 1, 2015. The commissioner of elementary and secondary education shall make appropriate recommendations based on the findings in alignment with the commission on school nutrition and childhood obesity established under section 7 of chapter 197 of the acts of 2010.
Section 5. The Healthy Kids Bill establishes the Healthy Kids Award program to reward K-12 schools that implement policies and practices that create opportunities for students to be physically active and make healthy food choices throughout the school day. The program seeks to integrate physical activity into non-physical education classes, recess and extracurricular activities throughout the day in addition to the physical education received in physical education classes. The Healthy Kids Bill encourages the Department of Education to develop guidelines that local districts can adopt to promote quality recess practices and behaviors that engage all students, increase their activity levels, build social skills, and decrease problem behaviors.
SECTION 2. Section 1 shall take effect for the 2015-2016 school year.
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