Avoiding PE Opt Out Waivers - Action for Healthy Kids
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Avoiding PE Opt Out Waivers

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Kids With ParachuteHow many minutes per week of physical education does your school provide? Physical education not only helps kids stay healthy, but it also teaches students the skills necessary to remain active into adulthood. Being physically active is an important life-long skill. Regular participation in quality physical education programs is essential for overall health and well-being! Schools and school districts, however, can apply for waivers to exempt certain students from state physical education requirements. These waivers can undermine the importance of physical education. Does your school have a waiver that allows students to opt out of physical education? If so, take action today!

Take Action

Take these steps to help your school avoid physical education waivers:

  • Familiarize yourself with research that highlights the connections between physical activity and academic achievement. Communicate this information to the school board and other decision-makers to demonstrate the importance of physical education as an academic subject.
  • Review the process for obtaining a physical education waiver in your district and state.
  • Gain the support of your local school wellness team and other physical activity champions in your community such as students, parents, pediatricians, and physical and health educators.
  • Work with your physical education department to prepare a justification statement for your current PE curriculum. Include the national and state standards, skills and learning objectives taught in all grades.
  • Share Shape America’s position statement on Physical Education as an Academic Subject (SHAPE).
  • If your state hosts a public hearing to review the waiver, encourage as many staff members as possible to attend.

Social Emotional Health Highlights

Activities such as these help students explore…

Self-Awareness and Social Awareness: Many students understand the importance of physical activity for their health, but do they understand the social emotional health benefits of physical education? The benefits of physical education extend beyond the physiological benefits by providing a safe space to discuss emotions, self-perception, and empathize with others serves as a safe space for students with diverse and perspectives and interests to develop a better understanding for others and themselves.


Consider adding clear language to your local school wellness policy that addresses physical education waiver requirements for K-12 students (e.g., substituting physical education requirement with other activities). An example may include a simple statement such as “All students in grades K-12 shall be required to take physical education class.”

Contact your local chapter of Shape America for additional support.

Volunteers can provide support to build awareness of this key issue. Who in your network has skills or interests around physical education?

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