Keeping Students Healthy Is Mission Of Physical Education Department

Bush Elementary School physical education teacher, Shawn Reed, demonstrates sit-ups to his distance learning students through Zoom.

Jamestown Public Schools’ physical education teachers are working hard to keep kids healthy and active both in person and virtually. The physical education teachers attended summer sessions that focused on keeping students safe, and helping them teach in the new normal.

“We wanted to provide a safe environment but still keep students active,” said Bush Elementary School Physical Education teacher, Jay Grann. “The summer meetings helped put protocols in place for everything from, entering and exiting a gym to how to create lessons that will be fitness based, but also fun.”

All students are using hand sanitizer before they walk into a gymnasium. All students are also wearing a mask and are given mask breaks when appropriate. Students must be 6 feet apart when doing anaerobic exercises and 12 feet when doing aerobic activities. Physical education classes across the district have smaller in-person classes. In some classes, teachers are providing unique ways to help with social distancing such as taping off the floor in “playstations.” At this point, the physical education guidelines do not allow for the use of equipment. The teachers are excited to start using more equipment with students that will keep things fresh, as well as provide individual skill development when it can safely be implemented.  

The in-person physical education classes include different activities depending on the level. Mr. Grann and fellow Bush Elementary School physical teacher Shawn Reed have held indoor and outdoor classes working on cardiovascular fitness with fitness walks or workouts. They are going over different exercises to enhance strength, cardio and flexibility. We have also incorporated fitness relay races for students. For the remote learners, the teachers are meeting by Zoom giving the same lessons as the in-person learners. 

Jefferson Middle School Physical Education teacher Ardelle Rambacher’s focus in September is leading and helping students complete their Google classroom lessons to ensure that they know what is expected of them on days they are not in “in person.”  The Jefferson teachers utilize Strider Field/track and also the arboretum behind Strider Field for outdoor activities. Inside activities include locomotor games that allow for social distancing like, skipping, jumping and leaping. At home, students are doing a “Playlist” that includes links to workouts. They also include an assignment that is a health-related video or article.

Lincoln Elementary School second graders in Laura Burstrom’s class do an in-class “Young Avengers” superhero workout with their physical education teacher, Christopher Hammond.

“Continuing physical education whether in person or virtually is so important,” said Mrs. Rambacher. ‘According to Hallal, regular physical activity promotes psychosocial health and helps contribute to learning. Also, physical activity can improve mental health by decreasing and preventing conditions such as anxiety and depression.  We are trying our best to make things seem as ‘normal’ as possible by asking students to move at home as well as while in school to help in the fight to prevent mental and physical stresses associated with these times.”

JHS physical education teachers are teaching ninth graders in person with all of the social distancing and mask-wearing protocols. Students are not sharing equipment at this point but doing anaerobic and aerobic activities. All 10th through 12th grade students who are currently all online learners (including ninth grade all-distance learners) are using Google Classroom with assigned workouts. Once a week, students are given their workouts and must complete the workout(s) and submit a workout log sheet to their physical education teacher. 

Workouts vary week-to-week including: focusing on cardiovascular health, muscular strength, endurance or flexibility with activities such as: cross fit, yoga, walking, circuit training and weight training (with items around the house).  Students are required to complete one workout and workout log form every time period they are scheduled to have a physical education class during the school day, however, all students are encouraged to get 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day with additional suggestions.

“The most obvious challenge for remote learners in physical education is that we don’t have eyes on our students to help correct movements/exercises, student accessibility to various resources and student accountability during workouts,” said JHS Physical Education teacher Scott Shawley. “Physical activity has a huge impact on our overall health.  Not only does it keep us physically healthy but it helps keep us emotionally, socially, and mentally healthy as well.  Given the circumstances of the current pandemic, a lot of people are struggling with emotional and mental health so giving kids opportunities to stay physically active will help improve those areas of health.”


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