Physical Education Gone Virtual in Response to COVID and Unique Need


Evan Piechocki, Student of Journalism

A virtual physical education course was added recently for students to take in order to earn their credits during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We’ve started to see more and more students with mental health supports and needs that may not be able to be met by an in person physical education class,”  Associate Principal Tim Kachur said.

This class, PE Portfolio 2, was first introduced during the summer following the 2019-’20 school year. The Board of Education did not want any students to funnel through its doors during the summer because of the global pandemic.

Productivity and the degree of completion has also been an issue when dealing with online courses.  How will this class ensure that kids are learning and staying productive?

Clearly, the school needed to brainstorm ideas for an alternative option for students to still complete the course without coming to school and taking the risk of contracting the illness.

After many hours of research, the board was able to find a solution.

The school is using Welnet (an online activity tracker and personal wellness website) to carry out its plan. Through Welnet, kids are able to create a portfolio that includes information about a healthy lifestyle, nutrition, vocabulary, and a guide to a personal workout.

Currently, this course is being instructed by Mrs. Mary Shandonay who teaches the importance of logging daily physical activity into Welnet. Shandonay stresses the value of learning lifetime fitness.

Within the district, Welnet is used in almost every physical education class. According to Jason Barber, physical education teacher, Welnet is user friendly and allows teachers to view each and every student’s activity and behavioral logs. On the other hand, this class does not force kids to participate in any form of physical activity. 

“Allowing the student at his or her pace at his or her time to work, we utilized this PE Portfolio 2 course,” Associate Principal Tim Kachur said about how this course is used for the benefit of the students.

The Glossary of Education Reform also says that personal portfolios are most effective when they are utilized to demonstrate the students’ growth, understanding and learning. Portfolios are like benchmarks. They show the teacher student progress and help them visualize what students may need additional help on.

Following this course, there have been two other virtual options, which have also been implemented by the department.  The courses are called PE Online 1 and PE Online 2. Apart from PE portfolio 2, these courses will only be provided when necessary. As it was said before, PE Online 1 and 2 are for the students who are physically or mentally incapable of completing the course on their own. This course is an outlet for students rather than an obligation.

“We can offer this class to as a way of reducing their stress,”  Kachur said in reflection about the accessibility of this course past this school year to individuals.

After the 2020-’21 school year, PE Online 1 and 2 will only be available to those who are not able to participate in physical activity or struggling with mental health while PE Portfolio 2 may be an alternative option forever.

NHS has to make a multitude of changes to its curriculum during the season of COVID-19. From schedule changes to new courses, NHS has been taking action by doing what is best for the students mentally and physically.