DESE to collect feedback for 60 days
MALDEN – The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education unanimously voted yesterday to send a draft updated health and physical education framework out for public comment, the next step in updating guidelines that have been in place since 1999.
The draft updated framework outlines standards for what a comprehensive health and physical education program should include: mental and emotional health; personal safety, including safety from gun violence; physical health and hygiene; healthy relationships, including safety from dating violence; nutrition and balanced eating; physical activity and fitness; substance use and misuse; gender, sexual orientation, and sexual health; and public, community, and environmental health.
The Board voted to collect feedback on the framework over the next 60 days.
“Districts have been waiting a long time for an updated health and physical education framework, and I’m excited to see the draft move on to the next step in the process,” said Education Secretary Patrick Tutwiler. “I’m grateful to everyone at DESE and all the educators and experts who contributed to this draft, and we welcome the public’s feedback on it. Together, we can craft nation-leading guidelines for health, well-being, and physical fitness.”
“I’m pleased to send this updated draft out for public comment,” said Board Chair Katherine Craven. “This is a chance for additional Massachusetts educators, parents, students, and community members to review the draft framework and help us strengthen it.”
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, educators, and health experts began the process of revising the framework several years ago, ultimately leading to the draft shared last week. The public comment period is a chance for anyone interested to weigh in.
“Updating frameworks is a process that incorporates the knowledge of educators, content experts, and the community, and I’m glad to see this draft move forward,” said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley. “As we do with other content area frameworks, we will gather feedback during this public comment period and will review the draft before bringing it back to the Board for a vote.”
On June 21, the Healey-Driscoll administration announced the draft updated framework, which is LGBTQ+ inclusive, medically accurate and developmentally- and age-appropriate.
State law (G.L. c. 71, § 1 and G.L. c. 71, § 3) requires all public schools to teach health education and physical education, but school districts have discretion to determine how standards are implemented at the local level, including what curriculum and materials they will use.
State law (G.L. c. 71, § 32A) gives parents the right to opt out their children from lessons related to sex education, a small portion of the knowledge covered in this framework.
The draft framework is available here: https://www.doe.mass.edu/frameworks/health/2023-07-health-draft.pdf, and additional information is available in this Board memo (download) and in this document about the framework’s organization and scope (download).
Interested educators, parents, students, and members of the public can submit comments on the draft via this survey https://survey.alchemer.com/s3/6646350/Comprehensive-Health-and-Physical-Education-Framework-Public-Comment, by emailing email@example.com or by mailing written comment to Kristen McKinnon, Assistant Director, Office of Student and Family Support, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 75 Pleasant St., Malden 02148.
The public comment period will end on Monday, August 28.