Instead of going to gym class, Fiona McKenna, senior, logs onto her computer and checks the activities she needs to complete for the day.
McKenna, a competitive soccer and hockey player, is one of many students who is enrolled in online gym to satisfy the P.E. graduation requirement. McKenna plays both of her sports outside of school and maintains a daily three hour workout along with school. “I miss a lot of school for [my] sports, so I need all the time I can get for extra time to work on schoolwork,” McKenna said.
Similarly, Sophia Haleas, freshman, uses online gym as an opportunity to further her practice. Haleas, a nationally ranked tennis player, plays four hours of tennis daily. “I leave [school] at 1:40, and my class starts at 2:00 and ends at 3:30. Then, I come to practice at the school.”
“You go online, and you get a teacher from a website. It’s on a website with different courses for math, English, world history, and they also have gym,” Haleas said. However, the workings of online gym aren’t as easy as they seem.
Physical education teacher Janelle Marconi knows the protocol of the online class. “The workouts and activities are being done or given online, and then [students] follow along with it. So as [they] follow along with it, [they’re] going to need to give some type of measurement, whether that’s a pedometer or a heart monitor,” Marconi said.
To partake in online gym, students need to first receive approval from school administration. “Students need to be pre-approved through guidance, and the course needs to be accredited. They need to get signatures of the parent, the guidance counselor and the director of guidance or myself,” said Assistant Principal John Bruesch.
The period allotted for gym becomes a study hall. “We wouldn’t approve it unless they already had six courses. That’s one of the parameters for any online. [Students] must be enrolled in the six courses already so that they won’t have two study halls already.”
Once a student finishes the program, the credit for online given is accounted as an outside credit. “When [students] complete their course, they submit their online transcripts to us, and that’s how they go into the student transcript as a transfer credit,” Bruesch said.
Not everyone is eligible to take this alternative, but it’s not limited to only athletes. “It’s a case by case basis in terms of what the schedule demands are. For instance, it depends on whether it works in their schedule or if they need something for graduation. There is a number of different parameters that we consider,” Bruesch said.
However, due to the individualistic nature of the online program, students cannot participate in group activities, such as basketball. Marconi believes that this lack of socializing can leave a mark on a student. “When you look at the social aspect, when students aren’t able to have that connection with their peers, it can have an effect on their mental state or emotional state as well,” Marconi said.
Furthermore, the demands of the program are high. “There are lessons that I have to do. Each lesson has quizzes and tests, and at the end there is a final exam. There are due dates for each lesson, too,” McKenna said.
Similarly, Haleas warns those students anticipating an easy way out of P.E. “You actually have to work really hard. This is for people who want to improve what they’re doing. You can’t just get out of it. You have to have a reason,” Haleas said.