School should open new P.E. credit opportunities

March 1, 2021 — by Andy Chen
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Allowing students to exercise on their own in order to fulfill P.E. credits would benefit juniors and seniors whose schedules have been impacted by the coronavirus.

 

While rising juniors and seniors have traditionally counted on joining sports like track and cross country to help meet the school’s mandated four semesters of P.E. credits needed to graduate, the coronavirus has prevented many from doing so this year. 

Currently, the school’s policy remains the same as in previous years: Students may obtain P.E. credits by either taking P.E., participating in school programs like sports and marching band or playing a sport outside of school through Independent Study in Physical Education (ISPE). 

Because of the pandemic, however, it’s harder than ever for rising juniors and seniors to secure their P.E. credits. Most sources of ISPE, like clubs, are closed due to COVID-19, and qualifying for ISPE requires significant time commitment — 10 hours per week. For those with six or seven periods, taking P.E. may not be a viable option. 

In past cases, participating in a sport would allow students with a full set of periods to secure their P.E. credits while maintaining their schedule. This year, however, it’s much harder for students new to a sport to join a team; sports programs with a traditionally large number of members, like track, swimming and cross country, are now operating with smaller cohorts and not everyone was able to join who would have done so in the past. 

Because the school must maintain the number of credits needed to graduate, the administration should put an effort to increase opportunities for students to obtain their credits in a safe and socially distanced way. 

For example, allowing students to take a P.E. course during summer break may allow those with packed seven-period schedules to gain credits without hindering their academics, much akin to taking a math course during the summer to jump up a level in math. The school could allow students to log their own fitness and exercise routine in order to gain P.E. credits from ISPE. 

To prevent dishonesty, the school could implement a variety of protocols, including requiring students to log their hours like ISPE students do or inviting students to take a fitness test during the final period of P.E. at the end of the year. 

Additionally, administrators could introduce a Canvas course for at-home P.E. that would allow students to upload records from apps like Strava and Runkeeper, which allow athletes to accurately track how long they run for and their exact path taken. By doing so, those auditing the ISPE-esque course — most likely current P.E. teachers — would be able to quickly check in on student performance. 

As the situation stands, rising juniors and seniors with a full schedule may be forced to drop one of their academic classes in favor of P.E. By creating more opportunities for students to gain P.E. credits, the school may help students’ physical fitness and academics flourish.