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We now have thoughtful, expert guidance from our national organization in collaboration with the CDC. Additionally, state departments of education are also providing plans for what life will look like in our schools. In physical education, although individual states, school districts  and school buildings will vary, one thing is clear, we cannot assess the secondary school physical education student the way we have in the past. 

As we make provisions for instruction, hygiene, cleanliness: It’s also time to have the difficult conversation about re-imagining the teacher gradebook,  

Locker Rooms

If you are in a situation where your locker rooms will be closed; you are probably hoping for a scenario where it will be routine for students to come to school ready, willing and able to safely participate in physical education. But..what if they don’t.  I, for one, am happy about closed locker rooms to an extent. Think about all the things we’ve battled as teachers about that space: theft, bullying, fights, vaping,  student embarrassment, disseminating/collecting locks, being accused of not supervising  or locking up the locker room properly, not wanting to step into the locker room as a teacher out of fear, not keeping kids inside the locker room and out of the hallways before the bell rings. It’s the only other space beside the bathroom that is not under constant public surveillance.  Perhaps we should see this as an opportunity rather than an obstacle….


Assessment has been long debated around the role of “preparation for class” and it has always been clear that being dressed is an expectation rather than a grade.  Preparation, when used as part of a fuller rubric around participation has been an acceptable means by which to address making sure students are comfortable and safe when they engage in movement activities.  It also provides them with a sense of self-responsibility, which is the real assessment behind being prepared. 

Personal Hygiene: Sweating After Class

The traditional argument has been that if students don’t change after class, they will be walking around sweaty, it is  not hygienic and students will quite frankly….smell.  We won’t solve the problem of having sweaty kids in the building after class.  However, if they are reminded to use  deodorant  and maintain the protocol throughout the building of the physical distance of 6 ft apart, we should be ok.  (You are now smiling and wondering if they can smell each other from that distance! LOL) More importantly, we must thoughtfully prepare for the kinds of activities we will provide and how/what to assess to promote and support our contribution to our schools. 

Fitness Activities/MVPA

The standard practice has been to engage students in moderate to vigorous physical activities for at least 50% of the physical education class period. MVPA has been loosely defined as observing rosy cheeks and/or beads of sweat on the face.  This practice has been associated with ensuring that students make it into their target heart rate. We have seen in our at-home virtual PE classrooms a desire to have students working out and engaging in fitness activities for several months. Assessing students for learning toward physical literacy must become more than physical fitness and so should the gradebook. 

Gradebook Suggestions

So, in closing, what is this administrators advice for what those boxes in the gradebook will look like? Let’s take our cues from what your educational leaders, supervisors, admins and organizations will value most going back to school. Knowledge acquisition, skill improvement, participation and social-emotional learning  (relationships. teamwork, kindness, collaboration, self-advocacy, self-empowerment, mindfulness). As you plan for the year, ask yourself: What do you want students to know at the end of each lesson that they didn’t know before they walked in? Being changed for class should never top the list.  I also encourage you to work with your PE colleagues to have universal/consistent plans for assessment.  For more information about assessment guidance, please be sure to check out the SHAPE America website and for SEL lessons and assessments go to . Thank you so much for all you are doing for students. Be well, be safe and stay healthy. 

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