A student may be excused from PE by a doctor if there are serious health reasons. What are the rules for issuing such leaves and can a family doctor do it?
Exemption from PE allows students not to participate in physical education classes without suffering the consequences of a bad grade or unexcused absence. Such exemption may be one-time or permanent. It may also involve performing only certain exercises. The period during which the leave is valid is strictly determined by the doctor. We explain what may be the reasons for obtaining such an exemption and who can issue it.
Exemption from PE from a doctor – reasons
The provisions contained in the regulation of the Minister of Education and Science specify that a student may be completely exempt from physical education lessons or only from performing precisely specified exercises during classes. Such a long-term exemption from PE applies to situations when the student’s health condition significantly prevents or impedes his/her participation in physical education classes.
Students often wonder why a doctor can issue an exemption from physical education classes. The regulations do not specify this in any specific way, leaving the decision to the doctor. Below is a list of sample justifications for such an exemption. In addition to diseases, these include:
other health problems
selected psychiatric disorders (e.g. fears and phobias),
convalescence after illness,
What doctor can issue a PE exemption to a student?
In 2022, the head of the Ministry of Sport, Kamil Bortniczuk, announced that changes should be implemented in the approach to PE classes, citing statistics that showed that about 30 percent of Polish students do not attend physical education classes. “These statistics will be radically reduced because the so-called exemptions from PE lessons, whether for a semester or longer, will only be respected when issued by a specialist doctor, and not, as before, by a family doctor. This is the first very big change,” Kamil Bortniczuk said in an interview with RMF FM.
Despite previous announcements that exemption from physical education classes will no longer be able to be issued by a family doctor, but only by a specialist – these regulations have not entered into force. Przemysław Czarnek did not introduce any related modifications to the regulation. Therefore, such a PE exemption can still be issued by a family doctor. It can also be done by doctors of various specializations, depending on the disease and the related contraindications of the student to participate in classes.
Types of leave from PE
According to the regulation of the Minister of Education and Science of February 22, 2019 on the assessment, classification and promotion of students and listeners in public schools, a student may be exempt from PE lessons completely and long-term (e.g. for the entire year or half-year), short-term (e.g. for a month) or only from performing specific exercises.
Regarding restrictions on the performance of certain exercises, the regulation provides the following explanation: “the school principal exempts the student from performing certain physical exercises during physical education classes on the basis of an opinion on the student’s limited ability to perform these exercises issued by a doctor, for the period specified in this opinion.” Another possibility of exemption from physical education classes concerns total contraindications in force for a longer period of time: “the school principal exempts the student from physical education or IT classes based on the opinion that the student is unable to participate in these classes issued by a doctor, for the period specified in this opinion” – reads a fragment of the regulation.
A student’s parent may also write a one-time exemption from physical education classes – this applies to situations when, for example, the child has had an illness, feels unwell or the student cannot exercise due to menstruation. In most schools, this form of short-term leave is respected.