Physical Education, but make it in a ~ pandemic ~

From individual fitness to mental health, PE teachers focusing on important topics during difficult year


Alexandra Godfrey

Alexandra Godfrey, Editor-in-Chief

The Coronavirus Pandemic has taken a toll on all of us in some way, shape, or form. We have strained over the last 10 months, trying to keep some sort of routine in our life, or we have simply thrown away a routine all together. It is important to remember that either can be okay, as this year has been like no other in most of our lifetimes. Something that motivated many students to attend school everyday, prior to quarantine, was athletics, and, unfortunately, but necessary, this has been taken away from some students.

While some people did not remain active during the pandemic, others did. During this time people found running, lifting, biking, walking, etc, as a way to escape the stress of online schooling, or fill the time that was usually spent with friends or participating in community activities. Others focused more on meditation, yoga, and other similar activities to maintain a clear mind. Some honed in on skills such as in the arts, read, built or refurbished, or studied strenuously for AP exams or online summer courses. Others simply focused on enjoying the company of the few around them in their household. Maybe you did all of these things, or maybe you did none of them, which, either way, is perfectly normal for a quarantined time-period!

During the first few months of the pandemic, workout opportunities at facilities were extremely limited, much more so then now, which was difficult on many student-athletes. The Plymouth South High School Physical Education Department has worked hard to ensure these students have the opportunity to move around during the day, and also take a ‘mental break’ from their long days, whether it be after a day of Remote Monday, in-person learning, or work on an off-day. 

Alexadra Godfrey

Stephanie Finn, the head of the PE department at Plymouth South High, told me the teachers are making individual sports and fitness areas the focal point of the curriculum this year, and “the smaller class sizes help!” with that. Students are required to complete activities for their off-days, in order to ensure the students are maintaining staying active. Students receive a weekly Google Classroom grade for the logs they fill out on their out-of-school activities. However, it can be difficult to have the motivation to get out to exercise during these times. Miss. Finn suggested “walking and stretching” as activities, as “students can do these easily at home when they are not in school”. 

In regards to mental health, the PE department has begun to put a priority on meditation. This is introduced at the beginning of each class, where “students spread out through the gym and simply focus on breathing”. The classes also “discuss the importance of mental health in relation to physical health,” I was told by Miss. Finn. She said the students have been very receptive to the new addition, and enjoy it in, and out, of school. 

As for other in-school PE activities, the classes are outside as often as possible, weather permitting. These activities include: tennis, archery, bike riding, and golf – which is ideally for the entire time-frame, for easily sanitation purposes, – and also power walking, which is occasionally on trails or facility walks. Indoor “activities include fitness [and walking around the perimeter of the gym, but] mainly racquet sports, such as badminton [and] pickleball”. If the class is inside, or out, Stephanie Finn told me they “focus a lot on flexibility”, often stretching – socially distanced, of course. 

Plymouth South High offers more than just the mandatory PE semester course. Electives include personalised fitness, sports education, and wellness and mindfulness. Personalized fitness focuses on lifting in the weight room, where students have the opportunity to have their own station using individual equipment. In sports education, students focus on athletics and cover sports safety. Wellness and Mindfulness is where students “meet in a classroom and focus on various mindful activities, such as meditation and yoga,” said Miss. Finn.  All of these electives are often popular with students, and are a great way to stay active, but also educate them in fields such as sports management, physical education, sports therapy, and more. 

I asked Stephanie Finn which course she feels is the most beneficial right now, and her response was “basically any of them, but maybe just the regular required one because we are covering such a variety of activities including a focus on what students can do at home”. These courses offer at-home workouts that can be used, not just now during a pandemic, but also in the future. Training at home may be a thing of the future, as many people have found it quite enjoyable!

Remember to stay active everyone!