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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

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Schools Prepare to Meet New Health, PE Requirements

kids in school stock

By Sarah Renninger

TRENTON – Parents across New Jersey have concerns about the recent changes to the Comprehensive Health and Physical Education standards (CHPE).
Approved in June 2020 by the New Jersey State Board of Education (NJSBE), districts are required to have an updated health curriculum guide/framework that addresses the new standards for September 2022.
As stated on the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) website, “The New Jersey Student Learning Standards in CHPE were revised to address the need for students to gain knowledge and skills in caring for themselves, interact effectively with others, and analyze the impact of choices and consequences.”
As school districts rewrite their health and physical education curriculum and prepare lessons and activities, many school boards across New Jersey are approving the purchase of a pre-K-6 program called “The Great Body Shop.”
“The Great Body Shop” is published by The Children’s Health Market and has been a health education resource for over 30 years.
In a company letter, it states, “We have been careful to meet all the national and state standards. Staying mindful of current trends and best practices, The Great Body Shop continues to evolve, improve and innovate.”
It states on their website, “The Great Body Shop is a comprehensive health education curriculum that is sequential, developmentally appropriate, culturally sensitive and medically accurate.”
The program’s materials include lesson plans, posters, games, assessments, and digital formats, as well as family newsletters.
If districts purchase and adopt this program, curriculum committees writing their new curriculum guides/frameworks will choose which lesson activities teachers use to address the new standards.
Most recently, the Lower Township Elementary Board of Education approved the purchase of “The Great Body Shop.” West Cape May and Cape May are also using it, along with many districts in North Jersey.
A look at several local school districts’ websites did not show a revised curriculum or lessons from a new program to address the new standards.
The Herald contacted some local districts, and many replied that they are currently working on rewriting their health curriculum.
At a New Jersey Assembly Education Committee hearing in May, there was discussion on a bill that would require schools to post health curriculum online. 
The bill would require schools to allow parents to review and ask questions about any sexual health lessons before the lessons are approved by a school board.
The NJDOE sent a memo to all school districts reminding them about parents being able to opt out their child from any lesson: “ …any child whose parent or guardian presents to the school a signed statement that any part of instruction in health, family life education, or sex education is in conflict with his or her conscience or sincerely held moral or religious beliefs, shall be excused from that portion of the course.”
September board meetings and back to school nights are likely to be busy places this new school year, as parents are informed about the new CHPE standards, revised curriculum, and possibly a new health program, like “The Great Body Shop.” 
Have any thoughts and/or information on this story? Email srenninger@cmcherald.com.

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