As reported in our October Edition of the Extra Mile, the comprehensive school funding reform bill passed in August by the Illinois legislature included changes to physical education requirements and excusals. Instead of a daily physical education requirement, schools are now only required to provide physical education a minimum of three days in a five day week.
The amendments also expanded the types of physical education excusals permitted under the law. Currently, students can be excused from physical education for medical and religious reasons, as well as for participation in the statutorily-specified school activities at certain grade levels. For example, a school board can authorize excusals from physical education for students in grades 11 and 12 for ongoing participation in an interscholastic athletic program, and students in grades 9 through 12 for ongoing participation in a marching band program.
Now, school boards also may, on a case-by-case basis, excuse students in grades 7 through 12 who participate in an interscholastic or extracurricular athletic program from engaging in physical education courses.
We note that the term “interscholastic or extracurricular athletic program” is not defined in the law. Recently, ISBE opined that this term means that the activity must be school related. ISBE is expected to issue amended physical education regulations to reflect the updated excusal provisions and clarify the terms used in the law.
In addition, the IASB PRESS October 2017 update includes revisions to Policy 7:260, Exemption From Physical Education, to reflect the recent amendments, including considerations and options for elementary school districts.