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Health Education

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a state-mandated “curriculum” for health education?

No. New York State requires that all students meet the learning standards for Health at the elementary, intermediate, and commencement level. In addition, New York State requires that certain content and skills be covered as a matter of Education Law and Commissioner’s Regulation (Ed Law Art 17, sec 804; CR 135.3). Precisely how students meet the learning standards and receive required content for Health (the curriculum) are matters left up to individual school districts to decide. The New York State Education Department provides a “Guidance Document” (link below) that helps districts to adopt, construct, and align curricula to meet the learning standards through evidence-based practice.  Guidance Document PDF

Can the junior high school requirements for health be offered in grade 6?

Yes. The junior high school requirement for health can begin in grade six provided that it is taught by a certified health education teacher as a separate course of instruction.

If health education is offered in grade six, can it be taught by a certified elementary teacher (without health certification)?

No. If the health course offered in grade six is intended to count toward the junior high school requirement, it must be taught by a certified health teacher and as a separate course. This would be in addition to the planned units of health that must exist at the sixth grade level and taught by the elementary teacher.

Is sexuality education in schools mandated by New York State?

No. Sexuality education is not mandated in New York State. Local boards of education may choose to make sexuality education a local requirement. Local school districts are encouraged to have advisory councils that include parents, school personnel, students, members of the faith communities, and other community-based organizations to make recommendations to the board of education about sexuality education programs. (*HIVAIDS education K-12 is mandated)

Is HIV/AIDS education in schools mandated in New York State?

Yes. All schools K-12, shall provide appropriate instruction concerning acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) as a part of the sequential health education program. In public schools, the board of education or trustees shall establish an advisory council which shall be responsible for making recommendations concerning the content, implementation, and evaluation of an AIDS instruction program. The advisory council shall consist of parents, school board members, appropriate school personnel, and community representatives, including representatives from religious organizations. Each board of education or trustees shall determine the content of the curriculum and approve its implementation, and shall be responsible for the evaluation of the program.

Can parents or legal guardians have their children “opt out” of HIV/AIDS education?

Yes, for "methods of prevention" only.  According to Commissioner's Regulation 135.3, AIDS education should, at a minimum provide accurate information concerning the nature of the disease, methods of transmission, and methods of prevention.  No pupil shall be required to receive instruction concerning the methods of prevention of AIDS if the parent or legal guardian of such pupil has filed with the principal of the school which the pupil attends a written request that the pupil not participate in such instruction with an assurance that the pupil will receive such instruction at home.  Such exempt pupils, however, are still required to receive instruction concerning the nature of the disease and methods of transmission.

Can parents have their students home-schooled in health education?

No. The legislature has not authorized part-time attendance, therefore a student is either fully enrolled in the total instructional program of a school district or fully receiving home-instruction. Although parents or legal guardians may submit notification to have their child “opt out” of instruction regarding the methods of prevention of AIDS, they may not “opt out” of the course itself.

STEPS to a Healthier New York - working to prevent obesity and diabetes through physical activity and nutrition - multiple resources
From SIECUS: State Profiles (2004) A Portrait of Sexuality Education and Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in the States
FDA and You:  INFORMATIVE, FREE NEWSLETTER IS FOR SCHOOL HEALTH EDUCATORS AND STUDENTS - Published by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, FDA & You is a free, quarterly electronic newsletter that is a great resource for school health educators on a variety of health topics, from antibiotics to weighing in on obesity.  Targeted at today's middle-school and high-school level readers, such as the safety of decorative contact lenses, hair dyes, reptilian pets, and digital wireless phones. the articles are written in clear, non-technical language.  In addition, there are fun quizzes, links to additional resources, searchable indexes, past issues, and an events calendar. 
Relevant and Timely Reading on School Health and Academic Outcomes - From the Educational Development Center
A range of ASTHMA resources, including prevention and self-management
Media Advisory Packet: a free packet of materials on relevant health topics - designed for summer, relevant all year:  from the NYS Department of Health - call 518-474-5370 to request packet
Basic Regulations - CR Part 135    MSWord Format  
HIV Prevention Education: Materials and Resources
Tobacco Prevention: Materials and Resources
Learning Standards for Health, PE, and Family & Consumer Sciences
Note: The Infant Protection Act of 2001 has created an option for parents who are unable to care for their newborn infant to anonymously and safely leave such infant at a safe location.  It provides another option for individuals who are struggling to make hard choices about a pregnancy.  You are encouraged to make this information available to your students as part of your health education program.