Bill requiring more physical activity in schools moves forward

Posted at 5:25 PM, Feb 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-06 06:43:09-05

Richmond, Va. – For the last six years, Virginia Senator John Millerfrom Newport News has been taking action to get more physical activity in schools and for the last six years he hasn’t gotten any results, that is until yesterday.

This legislative session Senator Miller introduced SB 211, a bill that would require at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day for all elementary school kids.

“In Virginia, 17% of middle school students are obese, 11% of high school students are,” Senator Miller told NewsChannel 3 on Friday. “We have got to get our kids up and moving and active to ensure that they are healthy, and this is a step in that direction.”

The bill passed in the senate last week. In years past, the bill usually failed in the House;  however, this year Senator Miller found a co-sponsor, Delegate G. Manoli Loupassi from Richmond, to introduce an identical bill in the house (HB 357) and this time it passed.

“He knows a good bill when he sees one,” Miller said. “I’m very happy.”

Instead of recommending schools provide physical activity, the bill will require it for 20 minutes a day or 100 minutes a week.

One concern against the bill was it would cost schools money, but Miller says that’s not the case.

“Some people thought it was an unfunded mandate and when they heard physical activity they thought P.E. and they thought it would require more teachers,” Miller said.  “It doesn’t require more money and it wouldn’t require more teachers, it just requires taking steps to make children active.”

Another argument  is it would be tough for schools to find the time. But in Portsmouth it’s already being done.

“We know that physical activity is good for children, it promotes learning, ” said Sharon Moore, Portsmouth Public Schools Supervisor of Health and Physical Education. “We do it through good scheduling, making sure there are no wasted times during the day then you can implement a 20-minute recess without impacting the core instruction.”

Portsmouth mother of two and nursing student, Neyarnda Booker-Battle also thinks it’s good move.

“Kids are into games now, so when they get home they don’t exercise,” she said. “Very seldom do they go outside or jump rope so while at school they get that time, I think it’s a great idea.”

If passed, the requirements won’t go into place until 2018.