More Students Opting Out of Phys Ed Classes Despite Obesity Epidemic

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Waivers for middle school students can be granted if the child is required to enroll in remedial academic classes. Parents can also request that their child be excused because they participate in physical activity outside of school that's equal to their gym class-- such as gymnastics or soccer -- or if the child wants to take another course in place of physical education, whether it be art instruction or an extra math class.

Different waivers exist at the high school level, but playing on a team sport or participating in marching band can both go toward whittling away at the one-credit graduation requirement.

Wilder admitted that it was essential that students stay physically active, but sometimes it's difficult to find a place for it during school hours.

"It comes [down] to the number of class periods that are available during the school day," she said.

Couturier agreed, noting that there is increasing pressure for schools to perform well on standardized testing and comply with the No Child Left Behind Act, "which leaves less time for physical education and subjects that aren't core."

Still, NAPSE doesn't condone any version of an opt-out or waiver program for physical education.

"We like to think it's a valuable part of children's curriculum," she said. "If you sign up for math club you don't get out of taking math. If you sign up for the school play, you don't get out of English."

But, according to Ayoob, even kids enrolled in gym class aren't getting out of it what they need.

"Gym is a term that's often used loosely," he said, pointing to 45-minute long physical education classes that take 20 minutes just to get the kids changed and organized. "Some of my kids get gym once a week, three times a week, maybe."

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