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" that helps districts to adopt, construct, and align curricula to meet the learning standards through evidence-based practice. Guidance Document ( 2.28 MB)
- Can the junior high school requirements for health be offered in grade
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.
- 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 required course itself.
- 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
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.