Physical Education Requirement Proposal

By: Kelly Creswell Email
By: Kelly Creswell Email

With No Child Left Behind and Standards of Learning tests, Virginia schools have a lot to cover already, but soon educators may have another thing to add to the plate.

A proposal is currently before the General Assembly that, if it passes, would require students to have 150 minutes of physical education classes per week. Some students don't get even half that amount in one week at this time.

Since it was another snow day for Rockingham County Schools, some kinds took advantage of the free time to play outside in the snow. Trina Wiley's two kids were getting some exercise through such play, which is something the schools can offer only a limited amount of in gym class.

"It is very important for them for their motor skills, their cognitive skills, their social skills," says Wiley. "I think when you get older, it helps promote a healthy lifestyle. You get the children used to doing things like that on a regular basis, they're going to continue to do that as adults."

So legislators will be looking at a bill that would require students from kindergarten to 12th grade to have 150-minutes of physical education a week. Keister Elementary physical education teacher Barbara Cavanaugh thinks it is a needed change.

"We just feel like the students need more information given to them for health-related issues and also for physical activity," says Cavanaugh.

However, finding the time in an already crowded schedule to fit in more gym classes may be a challenge.

"It's very difficult right now with the state mandates, with the SOL's and with the No Child Left Behind to be able to fit in all the things in the time that is being asked of teachers now," says Cavanaugh. "The only way that would probably work here would be to add a little bit of time to the school day."

Cavanaugh says about 99 percent of kids look forward to gym class. The state mandates a certain amount of time for the core subjects, but Cavanaugh argues that physical education is also a core area because it's important to have a healthy body.

If the bill passes, it would be phased in and fully implemented by 2013.


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