P.E. teachers remodel gym class amid COVID-19
ELKHART, Ind. - This week ABC57’s Learning Curve education series continues with a focus on gym class amidst the pandemic! How are health and wellness experts helping your child exercise and stay healthy during a non-traditional school year?
“We're entirely outside as long as the weather is good for us," Evan Atkinson a Concord Intermediate Schools P.E teacher said.
Atkinson knows his way around children's health and says that it's more important than ever to make sure kids are getting that physical fitness in.
“It's just I changed, right? So change is hard for anybody. So figuring out what I can do outside versus what we used to do inside figuring out how much equipment we have, utilizing the pieces we have. So we're still able to meet our standards and, you know, curriculum goals, while still providing the kids, you know, a great experience and a fun time out here, you know, while they're learning.”
Of course, the pandemic has changed a lot of aspects of everyone's daily life, and Atkinson's job is no different.
“Obviously, our class sizes are a lot smaller, which is good. We're really trying to spread the kids out. We're trying not to share equipment, which is nice with the smaller numbers. Every kid can have their own things. We make sure to disinfect, you know, between sessions between classes between days even, just to just obviously to be as careful as possible while still being active," he said. “We have soap and disinfectant sprays that will take all the equipment in and will spray it down will wipe it down between classes will rotate out the equipment that we use on different days just to make sure it really gets a good cleaning. We try not to use our hands, we have hand sanitizer as they come out here. They use it and as they go back inside they use it. So if they do touch pieces of equipment, it's, you know, more sanitary than otherwise,”
Stringent cleaning procedures are a must. Mask and social distancing requirements following right behind. But in the heat, sometimes gym class is the only time kids can get a break from mask requirements.
“Right here it's 90 degrees. We try to do small groups. So I have about 3 groups, and we're spreading out and like I would say an ample amount. And so, in this case, this is kind of like a mask break for them, especially as they're running around and sweating as you can say, it's kind of hard to breathe out here. So they bring their water bottles, they can take drinks, as we start to go back in and we line up or mask up again and go back inside. But we really just try to keep them apart, like not around anybody for more than the 15 minutes that they're allotted. Especially on a day when it's 90 degrees. We take them off a little bit," he said.
But Atkinson said getting outside just for a little is important.
“I was excited that we were still able to have pe at our building. I know some schools are doing some different things where it's online options, but just being able to teach the kids firsthand, I think is a very positive experience. I think them being involved in a lot of different sports is, is obviously a tremendous learning experience for them. And also just still being able to be active and have fun during this time, sets a good precedent for us," he said.
Besides the cleaning procedures, social distancing policies and moving gym class outdoors, the format of classes has also changed.
"S we teach the same students every day that they come now, which is great. So they're getting pe more often a week than they normally have. So that's great. We get in the groove with kids a little bit easier that way, just as special teachers, and I think you'll find a lot of the kids will say this is one of the most enjoyable parts of their day at our building," he said.
On Thursday our team is back at Concord showing you another physical activity - sports. Specifically looking at football and soccer and how they are trying to keep those student-athletes safe.
Now if you have burning questions surrounding school reopenings. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make sure to get your questions answered!