Bronx Science Physical Education Classes Go Virtual

Physical Education teachers at Bronx Science are getting students up and moving after sitting in front of their screens for hours on end.


Russell Kwong

Physical Education teachers Mr. O’Hara and Mr. Fallon often record videos for their classes. Here, they are demonstrating some simple bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, which do not require equipment.

No longer do we hear the whistles blow as our Physical Education teachers ask us to take a knee and head to our floor spots. As substitutes for this energetic scene are Google Forms and exercise videos. This year, the Physical Education department has gone virtual, as a consequence of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Eye strains, headaches, and lower back pain are all too familiar for Bronx Science students this year. However, what if this could all be prevented by setting aside some time every day to focus on our health and fitness? The Physical Education department is promoting just this in order to help students stay fit at home, both physically and mentally.

Many Physical Education teachers are helping their students to keep track of their fitness through a weekly fitness log where they can record their exercises up to five times a week. In addition, students are assigned videos to guide them in their exercises where they can learn more about the different muscle groups and the importance of fitness in their daily lives.

Typical Google Classrooms for Physical Education are filled with exercises, videos, and a weekly fitness log where students are expected to record their exercises completed, at least three times per week. (Russell Kwong)

Allison Pascual ’21, a member of the Cross Country, Indoor Track, and Outdoor Track teams, fills out her weekly fitness log quotes by completing her runs. “For Physical Education class, I have to complete these short assignments on our current unit: yoga. It’s usually a short two minute video with some questions, or a google form asking about mental health,” said Pascual.

Regardless, participating in physical education from home proves to have its challenges. Many students do not have access to gym equipment that is typically used during a regular school year and consequently miss out on opportunities to effectively work out. 

The department has attempted to solve the problem by teaching units where the exercises can be done from home without any gym equipment. Some examples include yoga and bodyweight exercises, which can improve muscular strength, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility. Additionally, many students lack the motivation to exercise. Without friends and teachers around to support them, some students are exercising with improper form and can greatly benefit from tips from their peers.

“Although I exercise a lot outside of Physical Education class, I know that there are some students who are not as exposed to fitness and working out. Physical health is essential in improving quality of life, and I think it is crucial for students to understand the importance of fitness; especially in a school as rigorous as Bronx Science,” said Pascual ’21.

Outside of school, Allison Pascual ’21 is also an assistant dance teacher during the weekends, providing her with exercise and an enjoyable activity. (Allison Pascual)

Not only are students experiencing the struggles of adjusting to remote learning; teachers as well must adapt their lessons and classes for the new online setting. This unprecedented year marks Physical Education teacher Mr. O’Hara’s twenty-fifth year teaching and his tenth year working at Bronx Science. However, starting the year remotely is a first for him, along with the rest of the school’s faculty. “Virtual learning for Physical Education is definitely challenging. Physical education is supposed to be a class of movement and activity,” said O’Hara, who also acknowledges the challenges of students’ potential lack of motivation and lack of access to gym equipment at home.

Similarly, Physical Education classes for blended learners are also restricted due to Coronavirus pandemic. “We are currently not allowed to use any equipment (due to COVID-19), and we must engage the students in some physical capacity. I have been assessing students by using the Presidential Physical Fitness test, a test which measures student’s strength, speed and stamina,” said O’Hara. 

As the weather begins to cool down as we head into the winter months, the teachers in the Physical Education department are preparing for new ways to engage students indoors, since they soon will not be able to go outside due to the temperature. “In the upcoming months, we plan to play socially distanced games and sports in class. Pickleball, badminton and table tennis are a few sports that allow students to distance themselves and not have to share any equipment,” said O’Hara. 

Whether students are a part of the remote or blended learning model, the teachers in the Physical Education department are here to support Bronx Science students both physically and mentally during this difficult time of the Coronavirus pandemic. “My message to my students is simple: stay active, keep moving and find something that you love to do,” said O’Hara. “You might have picked up new hobbies over the past six months, so I encourage students to have fun and enjoy these new found life long activities.”

“My message to my students is simple: stay active, keep moving and find something that you love to do,” said Mr. O’Hara, Physical Education teacher at Bronx Science. “You might have picked up new hobbies over the past six months, so I encourage students to have fun and enjoy these new found life long activities.”