PE persists in pandemic: Department transitions to HM Online

Sam Chiang and Max Chasin

As the school transitions its academic classes into a virtual setting, the school’s Physical Education Department recently released that academic classes aren’t the only ones at the school that are going virtual: the Department is requiring fourth quarter gym class students to keep a log of their exercise. 


In order to enforce these requirements, students are required to fill out their workout log and submit it twice a week through the dropbox on PowerSchool Learning. The submission of the log serves not only as a means for taking attendance, but it also determines one’s grade for the semester:high pass, pass, low pass, or fail.


The physical activity log requires every student to exercise for at least thirty minutes three times a week. Physical education is a New York State mandated requirement, Upper Division Physical Education Department Chair Amy Mojica said. “We chose the requirement of three, 30 minute workouts to be similar to the current PE schedule and also be consistent each week,” she said. 

While many students already have their own exercise routine, some students no longer have access to certain equipment that they require or never had a routine in the first place. The school has dedicated a page of their PowerSchool Learning page to resources for students. These resources consist of workout videos from Physical Education Teachers Gregg Quilty and Meredith Cullen along with other featured workouts on YouTube, and also includes fitness apps and websites, fun facts and trivia, and strength challenges. 


The department is also offering Zoom classes at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. starting on April 13th where students can work out with other students and physical education faculty. 


Dance PE classes have also gone online. Theatre, Dance & Film Studies Department Chair Alison Kolinski is hosting her dance classes over zoom after being inspired when her own yoga instructor went online, she said. “We’re all forced to use computers more than ever, which is why dance is important because it’s a fun opportunity to get up and moving,” Dance Teacher Denise DiRenzo said.


Teaching dance online is more difficult than in person, Kolinski said. “I don’t know if they are getting all of the steps and I asked if anyone needed clarification, but it’s not the same as doing it in a classroom and seeing their emotions.”


However, Kolinski remains confident that the classes are helping students and that it will get easier. The class will soon take on Renaissance dance which will be much more conducive to online because it’s full body movement, she said. 


It’s very important that students get up and move their muscles because it brings them energy and lightens the mood, Kolinski said. Hopefully, students are receiving a boost both physically and mentally while we are all staying at home, sitting and working most of the day, Mojica said. 


Matthew Jacobson (9) thinks that the requirements may be a good thing for some to have, as it will help them stay on track and work out. However, he believes that they don’t really affect him, because he would be exercising anyways, he said.


Armaan Kakodkar (11) agrees that these requirements will help guide students in a healthy direction. The guides will help students who have lost access to certain resources that they require to workout, Kakodkar said. “I am following the workout log and Coach Quilty’s workout inspiration video as a substitute for my gym closing,” he said. “I follow the exercises after going for a run in the park most mornings.”


However, some believe that every student won’t truthfully complete their exercise log. Some think that students might not submit it at all and others might report false information. “I don’t think if the school tells people to do exercises that they will actually do it,” Jake Federman (11) said. People who already workout will continue doing so on their own accord, not because the school is telling them, he said.


“HM Online is a fantastic opportunity for students to learn independence and part of that is learning to lead a healthy lifestyle,” Kakodkar said. “The exercise log and workout inspiration videos have helped me and I hope that more people see these and know all they need is the motivation to workout, not the equipment.”