Arizona’s schools are taking steps to address the health of its students, though parents may not be aware of what those steps are.
That could change. Arizona lawmakers passed a bill in the last session that requires all Arizona school districts to hold a hearing by Jan. 1 to inform parents about any district policy regarding recess that might exist. The law requires governing boards to hold the hearings, though it doesn’t require them to have a recess policy in place or adopt one.
Recess and physical education are not mandatory in the state for most grades, the exception being a requirement that eighth graders take a physical education class. Beyond that, each school district can set its own recess policy.
Schools must, however, have a wellness policy that addresses healthy eating and physical activity. That was mandated by the federal Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004. Those policies had to be approved by 2006.
Arizona’s Coordinated School Health program brings together eight components to coordinate services in communities: counseling and social services, family and community involvement, health education, health promotion for staff, health services, a healthy school environment, nutrition services and physical education. This effort includes districts’ wellness policies, as well as health care workers, community groups and youths.
In 2008, the Arizona Department of Education received a grant from the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Adolescent and School Health to develop and put in place the Coordinated School Health program.