Arts, P.E. and Health will remain a requirement for Utah middle school students

SALT LAKE CITY – After months of debate, the Utah Board of Education has decided to keep the arts, health and P.E. requirements in place for middle school students.

It came down to a compromise. Leaders wanted to give middle schools the flexibility to set course requirements and allow parents to have more control over their child's education.

Under the new policy, all middle school students will still be required to take art, health, and P.E. but the minimum credit hour is eliminated.

“For example, instead of having to take a full-year of art, you could meet that requirement with just a half year with a course,” said Jennifer Graviet, Utah State Board of Education.

The course would be in health, college and career readiness, digital literacy, arts and P.E. Also, students and parents could substitute a course with private lessons or extra-curricular activities such as sports, as long as it matches their college or career readiness.

If a parent request for a course substitution is denied, they can appeal the decision with the school district.

“I'm an English teacher but I sure see the benefits of students who are in art classes or music classes, and I want them to bring that well-roundedness,” Graviet said.

Crystal Young-Otterstrom, the executive director of Utah Cultural Alliance, fought against the opt-out proposal. She’s happy students won’t have less art and music in the classroom.

“I think this really is a best of both worlds scenario for all of us interested in this issue," Young-Otterstrom said. "It really would be devastating if health and arts and P.E. went away for students.”