(KTSF by Sean Au)
California education policy mandates 200 minutes of PE (physical education) for elementary students and 400 minutes every 10 days for middle and high school students. But a recent study by the San Francisco Unified School District and UC San Francisco found that only 20% of elementary schools achieved this mandate. The study concluded that this was due to a lack of full-time PE teachers in the schools, something the school district is working to fix. Bill Sanderson, Executive Director of Academics and Professional Development, SFUSD says “We are adding 4 PE content specialists to the elementary schools next year. That will increase. Then about 60% of our elementary schools will have PE content specialists supporting them in the implementation of PE.” Sanderson adds that the school district plans to hire even more PE teachers when they get more funding.
The school district also showed the result of a study conducted by the University of Illinois to illustrate that the brain activity of a student significantly increases after 20 minutes of walking. Doctors recommend children to have at least 60 minutes of moderate to rigorous exercise.
In one PE class at the Chinese Immersion School in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Franciso, pupils learn to bounce balls with each hand, to switch hands, and to dribble. PE teacher Stella Lau says, they are also learning how to control their thumbs, fingers, and the coordination between their hands and bodies. “In adulthood, they can use the same skills that I just taught them to exercise,” Lau says, “So that they know that, ‘I have a healthy life because I am exercising 100 minutes a week, everyday. Also to eat healthy, live healthy and be active.”
SFUSD and UCSF conducted the study of 20 elementary schools, 4 middle schools and 4 high schools last year. They found that the middle and high schools were able to meet the requirement of 400 minutes in ten days of moderate to vigorous exercise .
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