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New Fitness Requirement to Take Effect in Florida

WEST PALM BEACH, FL – Elementary school students in Florida will have a mandated 30 minutes of physical education every day when they return to class in a few weeks. Gov. Charlie Crist signed the school fitness legislation into law in May.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that state legislators did not allocate money to schools for the new requirement, but the state’s Department of Education does offer more information about the legislation online.

Under the new law, the structured time must develop skills related to strength, agility, flexibility, nutrition and teamwork, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Dance is one of the activities approved to fulfill Florida’s requirement. Free play at recess does not qualify, according to the newspaper.

“We might have modern or folk dance and bring in a guest dance teacher to show me and the kids how to do it,” Ulrich Vernachio, a teacher at South Olive Elementary, told the newspaper.

The law allows a variety of instructors, including guidance counselors, school psychologists, substitutes, librarians and media specialists. Teachers do not need to be certified in physical education.

Besides dancing, students at South Olive also will bowl, play tennis and run.

The Palm Beach County School District plans to help meet the new requirement by broadcasting a fitness program DVD through the district’s cable station, The Education Network, the newspaper reported.

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