Physical Education Classes Less Interactive Because of Safety Concerns

Students attend physical education classes in the cafeteria this year. Photo by Sidra Ismail.

Health restrictions this year have proven to be a challenge for schools in regards to sanitization and social distancing. This impacts how physical education (PE) classes operate as social distancing in an athletic environment can be a difficult adaptation. 

With the modifications the department has made to using equipment and spaces, WCI’s PE teachers are optimistic. According to members of the department, there is no difference between any of the gym classes in terms of how sanitization and safety measures are managed. 

Mr. Wesson, a gym teacher at WCI, described how the department keeps equipment personalized to students, saying that “each gym student has their own tote, filled with their own personal equipment for the week.” 

He said that after the cohorts switch every Wednesday, that bin and its equipment are sanitized and isolated until the cohort returns the next week.

The department has also been making use of unconventional spaces recently. The cafeteria is being used for powerfit and livefit classes. The annex and weight room are used as small, but still distanced, rooms for health classes.

While the safety measures are going well, teachers remain skeptical of how well distance learning is working for their students: “Distanced learning works better for some, but causes more issues for most,” said Wesson. 

Wesson’s comment shares the same concern as other teachers in the department. These concerns have to do with the missing aspects of regular school life that play a big part in getting students ready for the real world. 

Mr. Cressman, another gym teacher at WCI, said, “There’s a social/inter personal piece which is important to learning/mental health/healthy living” that he says is missing from students’ school lives due to health restrictions. 

With all the restrictions that have been put in place, winter will not make it any better for students taking PE this year. According to Mr. Cressman, the department’s teachers “haven’t got to the winter months yet,” and admits it will be a challenge to keep students engaged with the courses. 

Mr. Nelson also explained that they are “focused on quadmester 1 right now and making sure that we give students the best experience possible.” 

Time will tell how well social distancing and the winter months will work for PE classes. However, for now teachers are working to make class spaces safe spaces for promoting healthy living.