Health Education in Seekonk Schools
Seekonk School officials will not be making any changes to the health education curriculum. Last July, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released a 46 page draft of a new curriculum framework for Comprehensive Health and Physical Education. DESE is seeking feedback from parents and educators about what should be taught in schools.
School committee chair Meaghan Mahoney said members of the school community have been asking questions about what the proposed frameworks would look like in Seekonk. Mahoney said she had asked Superintendent Rebecca Kidwell and Assistant Superintendent Zachary Waddicor to provide information to the committee and the public about the new frameworks and how they align with the curriculum in Seekonk schools.
DESE has the ultimate authority on the matter, which means the school committee can’t override their recommendations. “We do not have the ability to take action on the frameworks at the district level,” Mahoney noted. “We are absolutely entitled to our own opinions and I encourage any opinions to be voiced at the state level or through public comment.”
“This is at the state level right now. This is not a local issue,” Kidwell said at Monday’s school committee meeting. “There is nothing we are doing to take action on this at this time.”
Committee member Kyle Juckett said he was concerned about the “hyper-sexualization especially directed at younger (children).”
Kidwell said the administration would review policies and procedures around parent communication and the ability for parents to “opt out” if they were uncomfortable with certain subject matters being taught in school. “The law is there to protect you and to protect your child and to allow you to have the purview of making some decisions that are right for your family,” Kidwell explained.
Parents can provide feedback about the proposed changes in the school health framework through an online survey accessible at https://www.doe.mass.edu/sfs/healthframework/, or by mailing or emailing DESE at the addresses listed on their website.
Waddicor said students at the elementary level receive one period of physical education per week. Health education is not currently taught at the elementary level, Waddicor noted. Health education begins at the middle school level at Grade 6. Health courses are a semester-based course and not all students receive health (education) due to scheduling conflicts, Waddicor said.
At Seekonk High School, students are required to pass three semesters of physical education in their traditional four years. :All students are required to take health education in either Grade 9 or Grade 10,” Waddicor continued. The high school also offers elective courses which go into greater detail. Those courses include independent living and introduction to childhood development.
Waddicor said after DESE releases their final report, a team of teachers and administrators would review the district’s current courses and determine how to make the appropriate adjustments. DESE has outlined seven practices, including decision-making and problem solving, self-management and goal-setting, social awareness, relationship and communication skills, movement skills, and self-advocacy and health promotion.
DESE notes: The standards are presented by grade span: Pre–K-2, grades 3–5, grades 6–8, and grades 9–12. The standards are considered learning goals that are intended to be achieved by the end of each grade span, respectively. Within each grade span, the standards are grouped by practice. This reflects the importance of the practices for students across the disciplines of health education, physical education, and in developing social emotional competencies.
DESE’s CHPE report can be accessed at: https://www.doe.mass.edu/sfs/healthframework/
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