PE with PPE: Tips for a Great School Year!

School has been back in session for two weeks now, and I can honestly say things have been going really well. The one question leading up to the start of the year from my students and their families through email was, how will PE with PPE work? Even other PE teachers have reached out to me with the same question. The response has always been the same, we will adapt and overcome any hurdle put in front of us.   

My team at school put together a plan that we had approved by our extremely supportive administration, who encouraged us to make sure the students were active as much as possible while remaining physical distanced. We have had to make changes to some of our curriculum to make this happen, but as a team we feel we have a good plan in place. 

Now let me share a couple tips since we have started! 

Where do we put PPE when we are not wearing it? 

Most of our students have elected to wear face masks as opposed to the clear face shields.  When students are in a physically distanced environment and have permission to remove their masks, those that want to put them in their pockets or around their wrists like a bracelet. So far, this has gone really well. The biggest thing to remember is to get your students into the habit of putting the masks back on when they can no longer physically distance. We needed to do a lot of reminding during our first week, but now the students are all pretty good at remembering or even reminding their friends. 

The face shields are a little trickier because they don’t fold up and fit in your pocket. With that said, all of our students who choose to wear face shields are keeping them on the entire time during class.   

Shop masks & face shields for students and staff >> 

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Sanitize or Wash, Sanitize or Wash… 

I should have had t-shirts made with this saying on it given how many times a day I remind students to sanitize or wash their hands. Our school has hand sanitizer available in every classroom and at every exit/entrance to our building, as well as the sinks in the locker rooms and bathrooms.  

On the first day of school, we were very clear with our students about making sure that when they come to and leave class, they need to wash their hands in the locker rooms. They also need to use the hand sanitizer stations at the door when they come back inside. For the most part, washing and sanitizing hand are things students should have been doing anyway. However, even with my high school kids, we must remind them regularly to create routine.   

Shop hand sanitizer supplies >> 

Cleaning Equipment 

Because we have made some modifications to our curriculum in regard to Covid-19 and keeping our students safe, we have limited our usage of equipment in class. Students are no longer sharing any equipment or passing a ball to one another at any time during class. And any equipment they do touch to use in class is sanitized/disinfected by the teacher at the end of each class period.  

To simplify the cleaning process, we’ve created a dedicated space where students put used equipment after class. The teacher then sanitizes the equipment before the next class comes in. If you can, split your equipment into smaller sets so you can rotate them for every other class period. Also, I’d recommend using a sprayer to quickly disinfect larger equipment. 

Shop sanitizer & disinfectant supplies >> 

Keep Calm 

My last tip is, DON’T STRESS! The natural reaction is to stress and worry about what needs to be done, how to keep yourself and your students safe, how to properly clean your equipment, etc. But I strongly encourage you to be as positive as you can be and remember that as teachers, the example we set for our students and the way we handle ourselves, will directly impact how the students handle the situation. Sometimes things won’t go as planned, but this is not new for us as PE teachers, so let’s do our best to adapt and overcome any hurdle put in front of us! 

8 Responses

  1. Our school ended up buying lanyards to attach the masks to, so it’s very convenient for students & staff. The lanyard hooks to the ear straps of the mask, so when you take off mask it is just rests on the chest. As a teacher, I love it so I do not take my mask off and leave it somewhere!

  2. Not sure I would agree with the above idea of them putting their mask in their pocket or around the wrist.
    It can get dirty or germy like that. Our kids leave them on during P.E. and this helps protect me too.

  3. Teachers are struggling to have their students to participate on camera live. Are there any tips or tricks you can share on how to get students to turn on the computer and interactive live?

    1. Hey Scott,
      This is a great question! This will depend on a lot of factors to be honest. I live in a very rural area, so one of our biggest issues is internet access for our students. The other issue is very much the same as what you are saying, how do we get students to buy in. I will say that my students for PE are in the building, so right now this is not an issue, plus if we were to go remote, my students would not be required to meet for PE class. My students will be given the opportunity to complete any form of physical activity on their own time and record the type of activity and number of minutes completed. It’s not ideal and yes students can fabricate information, but it is the best option for our situation.
      My recommendation for having students meet for live lessons would be to build in a short survey for them to complete at the end of class, using is it like an exit ticket. You could also take attendance at the beginning and end of class.
      I would also recommend reaching out to parents and asking for their support. Explain to parents that exercise is a great way to help students reduce stress and release energy, especially if they have been staring at a computer all day for school.
      I would also evaluate what content you are trying to get to your students and decide what you can do that will engage students in a fun way.
      My last tip would be to recognize that attention span for students is going to be low, because of all the distractions of being at home. So, I would make sure my lesson is limited to 10 to 15 minutes. I know this seems short, but that’s about all your going to get. Maybe you do the 10 to 15 minutes class and then require that students log or journal 45 more minutes of physical activity at some other point in the day.
      I would also encourage you to make short at home workout videos, 10 minutes, that kids can pull up on their computer, phone, or TV and do anytime.
      I hope this helps and I wish you all the best! I know it is not easy and can be really frustrating, but keep pushing forward and encouraging your students!

  4. We have been in school (PreK-5th grade) for 4 weeks and have used NO EQUIPMENT!
    We have been utilizing our screen and computer projector to socially distance while doing week-long units…
    1st week was Just Dance Kids
    2nd week was Tae Bo
    3rd week was Kid Yoga
    and this week is outside for trail walking, jogging, or running.

  5. Nice and informative blog post. Was looking for some important information and visited your this page having crucial and knowledgeable content. Really written well. Share more alike this. Thank you and keep posting.

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