PE dress code should be reformed

March 31, 2010 — by Brandon Yang

On a cold, windy morning, a large group of students, wearing only T-shirts and shorts in the 40-degree weather, huddle in a group like Emperor Penguins guarding against an Antarctic blizzard. Some of them stick their arms in their shirts while others move about, trying to generate and conserve heat.

Is this some sort of juvenile detention facility? No, this is just physical education on winter mornings.

For years, the physical education department has held a strict set of rules concerning the uniform for their classes. To keep track of the students out on the field, teachers allow the students to wear only a school sweatshirt over their usual uniform. Of course, PE teachers do not force the offenders to remove the other articles of clothing, but the point deductions discourage students from staying warm in cold weather, as there are periods of time during class when students are not exercising. Such strict restrictions on outerwear often threaten the students’ health, an ironic result of a class designed to protect student health.

While it is not outrageous for the teachers to expect students to purchase and wear school sweatshirts, which are certainly affordable, just wearing the jackets and sweatshirts students bring with them is much simpler. They won’t need to worry about regularly taking home, washing and bringing back to school an additional piece of their PE uniform. Replacing a lost sweatshirt would also be easier, decreasing the points lost after students somehow misplaces theirs.

Understandably, PE teachers do need to keep track of the students in their different classes, especially out on the track when there are other community members also running around. As the adults responsible for the students, they need to be able to make sure no one in their class is doing anything potentially dangerous or trying to ditch class. However, there are better ways for teachers to distinguish their students from the other runners than restricting them to school sweatshirts on cold days. The physical education department should explore alternatives to this rule.

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