Tom Cronan Bill

The Tom Cronan Act for Elementary Physical Education was unanimously approved, on the second and final reading July 24, 2020 by the State Board of Education. Elementary school children throughout TN will now receive two days of physical education for 60 minutes per week. This is a huge victory for TN children across the state, and also for this organization. Now, it is up to PE teachers across the state to provide quality programs in order to build a foundation of being physically active for a lifetime.

Implementation of the Tom Cronan Act for Elementary Physical Education
Tom Cronan Act for Elementary Physical Education is now in effect for the 2020-2021 school year.

The Tom Cronan Act of 2018, guarantees that all Tennessee elementary school children will now benefit from:

  • Two days per week of instructional physical education.
  • A total of at least 60 minutes per week of physical education.
  • Physical education taught by a licensed physical education professional (an undergraduate degree in physical education and/or an endorsement in physical education).
  • The physical education class shall meet the needs of students of all physical ability levels, including students with disabilities who shall participate in moderate physical activity to the extent appropriate as determined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
  •  A student shall be excused from a physical education class for medical reasons. The LEA may require a parent or legal guardian to provide documentation of a student’s reason for being excused from the physical education class.


Prior to the July meeting of the SBOE, fifty-eight school districts had applied to DOE for waivers from the Cronan Act.  (COVID-19 was often cited as the reason for the request).  During the discussion of the policy, Board members spoke in support of physical education and its importance for children.  A letter from Lt. Gov. Randy McNally to the Board was read; that letter provided strong support for physical education.

In other SBOE action on 7/24/20, the decision on waivers for the Cronan Act was that the only portion of the policy for which a waiver will be considered is that 0980 “the class shall be taught by a licensed teacher with an endorsement in physical education or by a specialist in physical education.”

  • Requests will be determined on a case-by-case basis and if approved, will be for one year only.

More than one Board member emphasized that if a physical education teacher is “on staff”, that person is to be teaching physical education; that is their assignment in the school.

  • No waivers will be considered for less than 2 times per week or for less than 60 minutes per week.