Local News

Education Board Approves 30 Minutes Of Daily Physical Activity

Posted April 7, 2005 6:00 a.m. EDT

— The State Board of Education is getting elementary and middle school students out of their chairs and on their feet.

The board approved a policy Thursday that adds at least 30 minutes of physical activity to each school day for elementary and middle school students.

"We recognize that healthy students will be more capable of learning better," said school board chairman Howard Lee.

The half hour of physical activity, which classroom teachers can supervise, does not have to be consecutive. It can be as simple as walking around the school or stretching in class. It is different from physical education, the more structured activity led by certified teachers.

"We're going to use our 15 minutes in homeroom to come to intramurals or do something in the classroom," said April Parrish, a physical education teacher. "Some teachers are talking about Pilates and Yoga."

Currently, schools only have to provide students with what they deem as appropriate amounts of physical activity.

"This is so important because so many kids are obese in our state and North Carolina needs a lot of improvement to help our children fight obesity," said Kym Ballard, a state physical education consultant.

A report card issued in January by N.C. Prevention Partners showed only 22 percent of high school students say they participate in regular, moderate physical activity.

Opponents of the policy say there's no place to add an extra 30 minutes to the school day. But the North Carolina Association of Educators, which represents teachers, says it supports the policy.

The new policy will take effect in the 2005-2006 school year. North Carolina has a Health and Wellness Trust Fund that will help schools pay for any needed equipment and curriculum resources.