The shift to a hybrid education model for the fall semester at Lewis & Clark brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has posed special challenges to physical education (PE) classes. Since the nature of many of LC’s PE classes is not conducive to social distancing, many classes have been forced to undergo modifications in order to meet the standards set by the college and the state of Oregon.
As a result, many of the PE classes that were originally on the schedule for the fall semester were canceled before classes even started. According to Sharon Sexton, associate director of physical education and athletics, 19 of the 33 originally scheduled classes were canceled.
“The courses that needed to be canceled had obstacles that were impossible to overcome relative to space, the activity itself, social distancing requirements, guidelines for physical activity and any ability to offer alternative/remote options,” Sexton said via email.
Due to the timing of the class cancellations, there was the possibility of seniors who needed their PE credit not being able to take a class they had already registered for.
“One of my biggest concerns was ensuring that seniors who still needed PE credits were able to find a class that could fit into their schedule … I was able to add three additional Personal Fitness classes … specifically for upperclassmen,” Sexton said via email.
One of these additional classes is being taught by Assistant Baseball Coach Eric Del Prado.
“My original class was Gym Class Heroes, where we play different games, but that got changed due to COVID-19 and the lack of ability to social distance while playing. So I am teaching Personal Fitness … we work with the students to achieve their fitness goals for the semester … part of our class has an in-person component because everything can be done with social distancing in place,” Del Prado said via email.
Of the 17 PE classes currently being offered during the fall semester, 14 are designed as hybrid classes and three have required in-person components.
Head Baseball Coach Matt Kosderka teaches weight training, one of the three in-person classes.
“(The weight room) is a big enough space that we’re able to space everybody out, and make sure that we can minimize the amount of time that you’re in somebody else’s face,” Kosderka said.
The class was capped at 20 students in order to meet occupancy requirements and students are required to wear masks at all times, as well as wipe down equipment after each use.
Another concern faced by the athletic department was the necessity to shift roles and responsibilities among staff members, such as assigning coaches to courses they had not taught before.
“The majority of the classes that were canceled were taught by full-time coaches who teach as part of their regular job description,” Sexton said. “These coaches were either assigned to the classes that were added or given additional duties within the department.”
Both Kosderka and Del Prado indicated that themselves and other staff members had been asked to volunteer their time in other areas at the college.
“There have been some other things we’ve been asked to do, like helping with move-in or assisting with some of the (COVID-19) testing, but our staff is usually pretty gung ho about making sure that we can do everything we can to help people out,” Kosderka said.
This shift in duties and class schedules has allowed the athletic department to plan for future semesters.
“We are operating on the assumption that (in the spring) we will be in a similar place to the fall and are preparing offerings accordingly,” Sexton said. “With the ability to plan in advance we have been able to expand and add some additional classes to the schedule.”