OCPS and the district's Healthy School Teams work to increase the health and wellness of students and staff. In recent years, schools have prioritized health and nutrition education, increased opportunities for students to engage in physical activity, began selling healthier foods as fundraisers, reduced the number of junk food snacks used in reward programs and class parties, started employee fitness programs (such as walking clubs and exercise programs), hosted family and community health fairs, and added health and wellness information to their school's newsletters and websites.

In addition, the Healthy School Teams have designed a wellness action plan for their schools based upon the guidelines of the OCPS Local School Wellness Policy. The Local School Wellness Policy was designed to increase the health and well-being of the students and staff of OCPS.

Schools play a vital role in the wellness of their students by providing opportunities for learning about and practicing healthy behaviors. Good student health fosters student attendance, improves school climate, enhances student performance, and decreases childhood obesity.

The goal of the OCPS Health Education Curriculum is to support the District's strategic plan while providing comprehensive health education instruction for all students in grades K-12. This goal will result in youth who are health-literate, motivated to maintain and improve their health and who are less susceptible to preventable diseases by reducing their health-related risk behaviors. All curriculum is aligned with the Florida Standards, adopted in 2014, and incorporate research and best practices.

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Physical education is an important component of the educational school day. Current brain research supports the importance of physical activity during school to promote learning. Research also shows that children and adolescents who are physically active grow into healthier adults. The outcome of a physical education program that is developmentally and instructionally appropriate is a student with the knowledge to lead a healthy and active lifestyle for their lifetime.

Physical Education in Orange County Public Schools is designed to give students the opportunity to learn through a comprehensive sequentially planned program using the Florida Standards as a guide.

"Physical education shall consist of physical activities of at least a moderate intensity level and for a duration sufficient to provide a significant health benefit to students"
-State Statute 1003.455(1).

In elementary school, Florida state statute currently requires 150 minutes per week of physical education. Elementary physical education focuses on movement competency, cognitive abilities, lifetime fitness, and responsible behaviors and values. OCPS school district policy prohibits interscholastic athletic contests at the elementary school level.

"The equivalent of one class period per day of physical education for one semester of each year is required for students enrolled in grades 6-8"
-State Statute 1003.455(3)

Middle school students are provided the opportunity to learn through the application of movement competency, cognitive abilities, lifetime fitness, and responsible behaviors and values. Psychological and sociological concepts are the cornerstone of the middle school physical education program. 

H.O.P.E. (Health Opportunities through Physical Education) is a required high school physical education course. The purpose of this course is to develop and enhance healthy behaviors that influence lifestyle choices and student health and fitness. Students realize the full benefit of this course as it is taught with an integrated approach to health and physical education.

Health and physical education topics identified in the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards include, but are not limited to:

  • Mental/emotional/social health
  • Physical activity
  • Components of physical fitness
  • Nutrition and wellness planning
  • Communicable and noncommunicable diseases and disorders, including STDs and HIV
  • Health advocacy
  • First aid/CPR
  • Alcohol, tobacco, and other drug prevention
  • Human sexuality education including sexual abstinence and teen pregnancy prevention
  • Internet safety
  • Dating violence and abuse prevention

Physical education plays a critical role in educating the whole student with Psychomotor, Cognitive and Affective benefits. Physical activity is like "Miracle-Grow for the brain" states John Ratey. Physical education doesn't make students learn, but it gives them an advantage to learn. Students also learn how to live an active and healthy lifestyle, recognize and model responsible behaviors, and develop or enhance life values.

Dr. Rebecca Hunt
Senior Administrator, Advanced Studies
[email protected]