OKLAHOMA CITY —
Some Oklahoma students have suffered mentally, physically and emotionally during the COVID-19 pandemic year.
Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law that will require schools to receive health education, which was not required before.
“Oklahoma is one of the few states that do not have required health education,” state Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said.
The Sooner State is now on the long list of states making health education in public schools mandatory.
“We have had the State Department of Education, health-education academic standards, but we have not had a requirement,” Hofmeister said.
The Health Education Act ensures all Oklahoma public school students learn every aspect of health awareness and nutrition, which goes beyond physical education.
“It’s also about mental health, social, emotional as well as physical wellbeing,” Hofmeister said.
According to the State of Childhood Obesity, more than 18% of Oklahoma children between 10 and 17 are considered obese, which ranks the Sooner State worse than 42 other states.
Hofmeister said families having access to fresh fruits and vegetables in their community is important.
“Children that suffer from food insecurity, we’re trying to address that, as well, with partners that work with our regional food banks with those parents and families that are in crisis,” Hofmeister said.
The law won’t go into effect until the 2023-24 school year, but Hofmeister encourages districts to start teaching it now. She said starting the education of strong nutrition, mental and physical health is key to a productive childhood.
“We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and help our districts find ways to incorporate that,” Hofmeister said.