PE during a pandemic

PE teachers and leaders tackle teaching during a pandemic

A+soccer+ball%2C+ping-pong+paddle%2C+and+a+bag+of+tennis+balls+lay+on+the+ground.+This+equipment+cannot+be+used+for+PE+classes+due+to+curriculum+changing+to+low-intensity+workouts+and+mindfulness.

Photo by Adam Monnette

A soccer ball, ping-pong paddle, and a bag of tennis balls lay on the ground. This equipment cannot be used for PE classes due to curriculum changing to low-intensity workouts and mindfulness.

Adam Monnette, Live Media Manager

Many classes that students take are able to be completed remotely, like English or History. One of the few classes that have been the most impacted due to COVID-19 is PE.

When students went back to school for hybrid learning, teachers faced new challenges by having to adjust to wearing a mask for at least 8 hours a day, five days a week. Jessie Acevedo, PE teacher, experienced some trouble adjusting to wearing a mask all day.

“Wearing a mask is exhausting! The first few days back into hybrid, I had a very difficult time breathing,” Acevedo said. “Talking and teaching all day on top of wearing a mask caused me to be dizzy and have headaches.”

But that’s not Acevedo’s only challenge with wearing a mask. She says that the mask also muffles her voice. Acevedo says she has a quieter voice and some students may not be able to hear her clearly, impacting their learning.

“In the large gym, with multiple classes going on, it is hard to know if all the students, [both] in-person and zoom [students] can hear me, which would also hinder student learning,” Acevedo said. 

To resolve this, Acevedo has tried to speak as loudly as she can, but she says that puts a strain on her voice. While Acevedo has had trouble communicating clearly to her students, Jora Pugliese, senior PE leader, has also had trouble communicating and getting to know the freshmen in her class.

“When I was a freshman, I loved getting to know my PE leaders and playing games with them,” Pugliese said. “Now, I cannot connect with these freshmen as well. It’s not what I expected, leading during a pandemic.”

One of the ways that leaders were able to get to know the freshmen would be helping them through the different sport units, along with playing various games like dodgeball with the freshmen. Due to classes being split up because of COVID-19, the curriculum that is being taught to students does not allow for fast-paced movement.

“The curriculum has changed entirely and we, unfortunately, cannot have sport units or do high-intensity workouts,” Acevedo said. “With that, we have to focus on low-intensity workouts, along with teaching Social-Emotional Learning to the freshmen, which takes away most of the fun for PE.”

Both Acevedo and Pugliese agree that even though there are more challenges to overcome than in previous years, safety is the most important thing to worry about.

“I am trying the best I can to get the students to move and learn new ways of fitness both physically and mentally,” Acevedo said. “That is all we can ask for during this crazy time.”