Originally published May 20, 2020 in the Tallassee Tribune.
By Carmen Rodgers
Eddie Gantt, Scott Justiss, Terrel Brown and Jeanne Shirley make up the PE department at Tallassee Elementary School and when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they had to act fast to create an at-home physical activity routine that would suit both students and parents.
"After the coronavirus forced the schools to close, our administrators scheduled a Zoom conference meeting with the activity, elective teachers, physical education department about our contributions to the take-home curriculum packets, staying actively engaged with our parents, and providing PE-related material for our school website," Brown said.
With schools, playgrounds and parks closed, teachers had to come up with creative activities that both students and parents would find easy to adapt to and also followed the state's guidelines.
"One of the main focal points from this meeting was the need to provide enough physical activity and instructions for our students to do while adhering to all social distancing rules," Brown said. "We wanted to do this without overwhelming our parents with a load of lesson plans they may not feel comfortable or qualified to teach."
Students were given a variation of virtual options to explore rather than coursework.
"Instead of sending lesson plans, the PE department decided to send instructions on a variety of daily exercises, guided exercises with a description list, YouTube videos and links to age-appropriate guided dance videos like Just Dance for kids, Kidz Bop and GoNoodle videos."
According to Brown, these activities weren’t new to students and school officials made the instructions easily accessible.
"Our students are familiar with these exercises and activities because we were doing this throughout the school year already,” Brown said.
Teachers also provided an easily accessible open line of communication.
"Staying actively engaged with our parents is very important during this time also," Brown said. "Parents will send us messages to our school email, Facebook post or even Facebook Messenger asking us questions or needing clarification on PE-related information about the mile run, exercises and instructions on fun physical activities they would like to try with their child.
“Some parents have sent messages to update us on their child's continued efforts to finish the 50-mile run or to simply say, ‘My child want to say hello,’ or ‘I miss you,’ to their favorite elementary school PE teachers.”
It’s been a year unlike any other but Brown said it is all about adapting which is something he said Tallassee teachers were already accustomed to.
"The PE department understands these are unprecedented times,” Brown said. “However, like all teachers, we know how to adapt to change very well, whether that is the change of students every year, change of curriculum and state standards or classroom environment like the weather. Strategizing and adapting to different ideas and ways to provide instructions to our students is nothing new to our field of study.”