Rebuttal: Online PE is a positive asset to students

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Written by Robert Schader

I am writing in response to the article titled, “AT’s PE Should Reconsider Rules for Student Athletes” dated October 22, 2021 because I feel it was an inaccurate account of how the online PE course operates and the true problems that occur when students are unable to get their heart rate monitors to work.  

The State of Illinois requires all students to participate in daily physical education.  Addison Trail High School has always been on the cutting edge of education in the state.  Roughly 8 years ago, the physical education department created an online physical education course to give students more flexibility in their schedules.  Many students take online physical education to give them the opportunity to take another AP course or an elective.  Athletes take online PE as a way to use their athletic practices to get their exercise in for the day.

Students have two main requirements in online physical education.  The first portion of the course consists of weekly journaling.  Students get questions related to fitness and have a full week to reflect and answer them.  This is a substantial part of the course and really gets the students to think about their personal health and wellness.  If a student gets behind, we always allow them to make those journal questions up as the semester goes on.  It gets frustrating as teachers when students don’t take the time to answer these questions.  It really is an essential part of the class and helps students evaluate their wellness.

The second part of the course consists of daily exercise, which is required by the state.  Students get heart rate monitors from the bookstore and register them with Addison Trail’s personal club ID.  These monitors register MEPS, also known as MyZone effort points.  MEPS are given every minute based on the user’s heart rate.  As the heart rate increases, the MEPS per minute increase.  Students have to get 300 total meps a week and can always do extra MEPS to make up for previous exercise weeks.  This helps students who fall behind, have issues with their monitors, or are sick during a week.

As teachers, we often get frustrated when students claim they are having issues with their heart rate monitors and don’t come to see us.  As teachers, we want to correct the technical problems they are having as soon as possible.  When a student is having issues, they often take multiple weeks to come in to see their teacher, putting them behind in the course.  When they come in for help, 98% of the monitors are working fine and the weeks of missing MEPS could have been avoided if the student would have come in or gone through the troubleshooting steps we post on the Google Classroom.  If there is an actual monitor problem, which happens with all technology, we immediately send them to the bookstore for a new one.

As we move forward, MyZone has a newer device on the market that allows users to manually turn the monitor on and off with the push of a button.  This will greatly reduce the amount of user error we see in the classes.  Another positive to this newer model has been seen with our swimmers.  The older belt often moves around as the athletes swim in the pool causing it to turn on and off.  The new model can be worn on the wrist, arm, or chest during exercise and we have seen great success with our swimmers using them this semester.

In conclusion, Online Physical Education has been a great asset to our school.  Over the years, we have had hundreds of students take extra AP courses, elective courses, and use their athletic exercise as a means to complete their state requirement.  It has been a great way for kids to gain flexibility in their day while learning how to manage their personal fitness, giving them a crash course in how life after high school will be. 

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