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General Laws

Section 1. Every town shall maintain, for at least the number of days required by the board of education in each school year unless specifically exempted as to any one year by said board, a sufficient number of schools for the instruction of all children who may legally attend a public school therein. No town shall hold double sessions in any public school, if in any other public school of comparable grade levels in such town there are vacant spaces for more than thirty-five children, the number of such vacant spaces to be computed without exceeding a maximum of thirty-five children to a classroom. The board of education may suspend the application of the preceding sentence in a particular town for a limited period. Such schools shall be taught by teachers of competent ability and good morals, and shall give instruction and training in orthography, reading, writing, the English language and grammar, geography, arithmetic, drawing, music, the history and constitution of the United States, the duties of citizenship, health education, physical education and good behavior. Instruction in health education shall include, but shall not be limited to: consumer health, ecology, community health, body structure and function, safety, nutrition, fitness and body dynamics, dental health, emotional development, safe and healthy relationships with a focus on preventing sexual and domestic violence and training in the administration of first aid, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The department of education shall pay for the cost of any such instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation; provided, however, that a school committee may by majority vote decide that such instruction shall not be offered. In connection with physiology and hygiene, instruction as to the effects of alcoholic drinks and of stimulants, including tobacco, and narcotics on the human system, as to tuberculosis and its prevention, as to detection and prevention of breast and uterine cancer, and as to fire safety, including instruction in the flammable qualities of certain fabrics, and as to the prevention and treatment of burn injuries, shall be given to all pupils in all schools under public control, except schools maintained solely for instruction in particular subject areas. The department of education is hereby directed in collaboration with the Massachusetts Center for Global Education, to establish a task force for the purpose of developing a model curriculum for grades kindergarten through twelve in global education and international studies. A copy of said curriculum shall be sent to the superintendent of schools for each school district in the commonwealth. The department shall encourage each school district to implement said curriculum, or a variation thereof. No pupil shall be required to take or participate in instruction on disease, its symptoms, development and treatment, whose parent or guardian shall object thereto in writing on the grounds such instruction conflicts with his sincerely held religious beliefs, and no pupil so exempt shall be penalized by reason of such exemption. Such other subjects as the school committee considers expedient may be taught in the public schools. The board of education shall adopt rules and regulations for the establishment of a twelve-month school year. Any city, town or school district by vote of its school committee may maintain and operate on a continuous twelve-month basis a sufficient number of schools for the instruction of all children who may legally attend a public school therein in accordance with such rules and regulations. Nothing herein contained shall be construed as to authorize said board to require the establishment of a twelve-month school year in any city, town or school district the school committee of which has not voted to establish, maintain and operate such a twelve-month school year.

The advisory council on violence prevention established by section 1G of chapter 15 shall recommend for approval by the board of education a model curriculum for grades kindergarten through 12 in education programs on violence prevention for the purpose of informing students of the harmful effects of teenage violence, weapons and illegal drug use and of promoting community and social responsibility. The department of education shall send a copy of said curriculum to the superintendent of schools for each school district in the commonwealth. The department shall encourage school districts to implement said curriculum or a variation thereof.

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