Rainy River District School Board

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Health and Physical Education Curriculum

Heart Wordle

The Revised

Health and Physical Education Curriculum

A revised, not new, Health and Physical Education Curriculum  will be in place at all public schools in Ontario in September 2015.  The previous curriculum, from 1998, has been under review since 2007. More than 70 health organizations, 2500-3000 educators and 700 students participated in the development of the updated curriculum.  In the fall of 2014 parent consultations were held with 5000 parents participating through School Councils.

The world our children are navigating is changing and the revised curriculum contains current material related to supporting important issues and decisions – healthy relationships, consent, mental health, online safety and the risks of sexting – and is more inclusive of Ontario’s diverse population.

The revised curriculum also promotes the healthy development – physical, social, emotional, and cognitive -- of all students, and builds the skills and knowledge to lead and promote healthy, active lives now and in the future.

Parents & Guardians

The RRDSB encourages parents and guardians to review  the revised Health and Physical Education curriculum and become partners in the learning.  An overview of the topics by grade and strand, is available in the appendices of the curriculum documents for quick reference.

Elementary curriculum -http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/health1to8.pdf
Secondary curriculum - http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/secondary/health9to12.pdf

The Revised Health and Physical Education Curriculum is required to be taught in all publically funded Ontario schools. Boards of education do not have the authority to exempt students from the curriculum. In consultation with individual parents and caregivers, a school may be able to arrange some requests for accommodations for parts of the curriculum. Please see the process outlined below.

Parents/guardians who have a concern about any part of the health curriculum should:

  1. Read the curriculum and identify the specific topic that is causing concern;
  2. Record the specific expectations that are at issue;
  3. Contact the school principal to discuss these specific expectations.
    The principal will review the concern and will work with the parent to explain the context of the learning and how the curriculum connects to student cognitive, emotional, social and physical development as well as their mental health and resilience.  If a parent or guardian still has a concern, the principal will attempt to provide an accommodation to that part of the Human Development and Sexual Health topic of the Healthy Living Strand.  Exemptions to the entire health curriculum or the entire Healthy Living Strand would pose challenges to: student ability in future decision making and the ability of the student to feel included in class activities, discussions throughout the year; and student supervision.

Exemption Requests for 2015/16
While parents may choose to keep their child at home for parts of the curriculum, the RRDSB board strongly hopes that they do not. We want all students to be part of discussions that build respect and understanding, that help all students feel safe and respected. Being respectful, caring, cooperative, honest, responsible and inclusive are all part of the board’s core values that are taught in our classrooms every day.

We will not provide religious or any other accommodation for lessons that build a climate of inclusion and safety, including discussions about different kinds of families or any of the other human rights protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code. This applies to all classroom discussions and school activities about inclusion during the school year. We are committed to equity and inclusion in all forms, and schools actively support that work throughout the year. 

We will provide religious accommodation, using the Religious Accommodation Procedure (2.68), on an individual basis as defined in our operating procedure. Since the human development and sexual health component will be taught in Spring 2016, we ask parents to submit religious accommodation requests for these topics in January 2016. Requests received before that point will be acknowledged, but not responded to until after January 2016.

Communication With Parents and Guardians

In July 2015, the RRDSB Director sent home a letter to parents and guardians that explained the Human Development and Sexual Health learning focus.  Included in that communication was the Ministry Parent Guides to the revised curriculum.  A second letter, which is grade specific, will be sent home prior to the teaching of expectations addressed in the Human Development and Sexual Health topic of the Healthy Living Strand by the teacher.

While this will give parents some advance information, it cannot guarantee that some topics may be addressed without the parent being aware.

This could happen for three reasons.

  1. The various topics in the health curriculum are addressed throughout the year in a number of different strands.  Some of the topics are also integrated across subject areas throughout the year. In such cases, it is not always possible to predict which topics will occur in another area of study or at another time during the school year.
  2. Many spontaneous conversations happen in classrooms as a result of student questions and teachers use their professional judgment to provide a balanced perspective valuing diverse points of view in their responses. Sometimes the answers to student questions may include reference to a part of the curriculum that a parent may have an objection to.  Teachers will treat questions outside of the timing identified in the grade specific letter with care. However, without knowing in advance what questions students will ask, a teacher cannot guarantee that a health topic will not be addressed in a response to student questions.
  3. Students are being taught to be critical thinkers and apply their learning in areas of problem solving. Topics which have been addressed earlier in the year often resurface as students move onto new topics. For these reasons, we cannot guarantee that a topic of parent concern will not come up in a classroom. Where possible, questions of a sensitive nature will be addressed personally between the student and the teacher.


Parent & Guardian Resources

A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.
Wayne Gretzky