SECTION 1. Chapter 71 of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out section 3, as appearing in the 2018 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 in all grades for all students in public schools or commonwealth charter schools by licensed teachers, certified in physical education 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. There should be an emphasize on knowledge and skills for a lifetime of regular physical activity; be consistent with state and national standards for physical education that define what students should know and be able to do; devote at least 50 percent of class time to actual physical activity, that is moderate-to-vigorous in intensity; provide many different physical activity choices; feature cooperative as well as competitive games; meet the needs of all students, especially those who are not athletically gifted; take into account gender and cultural differences in students’ interests; teach self-management skills as well as movement skills; actively teach cooperation, fair play, and responsible participation in physical activity; have student/teacher ratios comparable to those in other curricular areas; promote participation in physical activity outside of school; be an enjoyable experience for students. A Physical education teaches students essential knowledge and skills; for this reason, exemptions for physical education courses shall not be permitted on the basis of punishment or disciplinary action, participation on an athletic team, community recreation program, ROTC, marching band, or other school or community activity. Students should not be allowed an exemption from physical education to prepare for other classes or standardized tests. A student may be excused if a physician states in writing that physical activity will jeopardize the students’ health and well-being or a parent/guardian requests an exemption on religious grounds. Students with disabilities should not be waived from physical education requirements, but instead should be provided with modifications or adaptions that allow physical education courses to meet the needs of disabled students. The board may promulgate regulations necessary to facilitate this section.
Section 3A. (a) School districts and schools shall be required to complete comprehensive self-assessments of their physical education programs using existing tools. The results of the assessment should be integrated into the district or school’s long-term strategic planning, School Improvement Plan, or school wellness policy, to address the quality and quantity of physical education offered. School districts and schools are required to report the findings of their assessment to parents and members of the community through typical communication channels such as websites, school newsletters, school board reports, and presentations.
(b) 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.
(c) 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, 2021. 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.
SECTION 2. Section 1 shall take effect for the 2022-2023 school year.
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