High Point Regional School High School will implement two pilot programs in its physical education curriculum in 2021-22.
Seamus Campbell, the district’s director of curriculum and instruction, told the school board on Jan. 26 that the school will implement a pilot program that will allow juniors and seniors to take a virtual physical education class, and a program that will allow seniors who play a varsity sport to opt out of gym class for one marking period.
For the virtual class, Campbell said health classes would not be virtual, and the virtual component will be available only to juniors and seniors and capped at 20 students.
The virtual class would be taught by High Point physical education teachers. Currently, virtual students take physical education through a third party.
“We think our physical education teachers should teach physical education and not use a third party,” Campbell said.
The other program, referred to as “Option II,” students can complete either a standards-based written assignment or take an additional study hall to complete work from other classes.
Campbell said the state requires students to take 2.5 hours per week (17.5 credits) of physical education to graduate, but High Point schedules students for 3.5 hours per week (20 credits).
“We are far beyond what is required because we value health and physical education and think of it as essential,” Campbell said.
Physical education teacher Todd DiNetta, speaking on behalf of his colleagues, expressed concern in an email to the school board about both proposals. He and his colleagues were notified about the proposals only on the previous day, he said.
In his email, DiNetta said physical education teaches students how to fail and to learn from it. It teaches them teamwork, all of which would be lost in an online class, he said.
As far as Option II, DiNetta said all sports are not created equal when it comes to cardiovascular health and flexibility, among other factors.
“By allowing Option II to substitute for a physical education class, you are essentially saying that an extracurricular activity is a valid replacement for an academic class,” DiNetta wrote. “Is that a precedent we want to set?”