EAST HANOVER — A letter has been sent to parents and guardians in the East Hanover Township Public School District discussing how the schools will teach new lessons next year stemming from the state's updated sex education standards next year.

"As you may know, the New Jersey Department of Education has announced the revision of the New Jersey State Learning Standards in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education to be implemented during the 2022-23 school year. East Hanover Township School District has always valued the importance of partnering with families as we educate students in topics that may include information of a sensitive nature," Superintendent Natalee Bartlett said.

The district has decided to incorporate the new standards into a single classroom period (35 minutes) of instruction for grades 2, 5, and 8 on the last day of classes.

She wrote that children who are in the classes might want to share some information with other kids. So, the instruction will take place on the last day of school in 2023 to minimize the sharing of such information.

Bartlett also made it clear that the district will not change its current lesson planning or curriculum offerings based on the updated standards.

These specific lessons will be co-taught by the physical education teachers and school nurses. They will be announced well in advance so parents/guardians have enough time to inform the schools as to whether or not to let their children attend.

Some topics may be uncomfortable for students. So, parents/guardians have the option to exclude their children from any portion of sexual education instruction if it conflicts with conscience, moral or religious beliefs.

The letter also says that the district intends to loosely interpret the standards and apply simple definitions to terms. They will not discuss these terms in-depth or provide instructional guides or materials. Students who are not attending these classes will be given alternative activities.

Depending on the child's grade level, topics may include:

  • Personal Safety
  • Human Reproduction and Childbirth
  • Puberty
  • HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STDs)
  • Contraception and Pregnancy Prevention
  • Abstinence
  • Healthy Relationships
  • Decision Making
  • Self-Advocacy

"EHTSD wholeheartedly supports that parents/guardians should serve as the primary sexuality educators for their children. Further, we also believe that the state is acknowledging its overreach, and has begun distancing itself from some of the new standards," Bartlett writes.

She added it would not be a surprise if many of the topics are altered before the new school year. More information will be provided before the fall school year begins.

Anyone with information or concern regarding the state-mandated curriculum can contact Gov. Phil Murphy's office by visiting https://www.nj.gov/governor/contact/all/

Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at jennifer.ursillo@townsquaremedia.com

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