School Reentry Considerations

Considerations for School Reentry

Teaching Strategies for School Reentry


Equity, inclusion and accessibility must first be considered when planning curricular units, assessments, and learning activities for students.

The pandemic has increased the equity gap in education and has highlighted disparities in student and teacher access to digital devices, learning materials, and the internet.

According to a report released by the Pew Research Center, when schools were closed 15 percent of U.S. households and 35 percent of low-income households with school-age children did not have a high-speed internet connection at home (Pew Research Center, 2020).

Existing feelings of stress, anxiety, fear, and anger can be exaggerated when students lack necessary access to the internet, physical activity equipment, or devices to complete assignments. Additionally, the individual needs of students with disabilities, and culturally and linguistically diverse learners must be considered.

Considering the logistical and emotional needs of students is extremely important, especially for those who may already have disadvantages prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools should make sure that students can receive and access the course content necessary to learn.

Health and physical education teachers should address the below considerations when planning for school reentry, whether schools are operating under a model of in-school instruction, distance learning, or hybrid learning. These questions will provide important insights, which will help set realistic expectations and accurately prepare lesson materials so students can be successful:


The number of students who have access to the internet or a device at home to complete assignments for schools operating under a distance learning or hybrid learning model

  • How many computers are available in the household?
  • Will students be completing assignments primarily from their cellphones? Will this cause limitations (e.g., accessing materials, data limitations)?
  • Are there other siblings in the home and how old are they?

The demographics or specific circumstances of your students

  • Are parents/guardians or family members working from home?
  • Have parents/guardians or family members lost their jobs?
  • Do any my students have difficult home lives (e.g., history of abuse, parental substance abuse)?
  • How can I consider how to teach sensitive topics (e.g., assault prevention, abuse, sexual violence) with students who may have experienced or are experiencing this type of trauma?
  • What is culturally important or relevant to my students right now? (i.e., How might my students be feeling about demonstrations/protests in response to police brutality?)
  • Have any of my students lost loved ones due to COVID-19?
  • How do my own experiences differ from those of my students?

Access to materials/equipment at home

  • What materials can my students use at home to complete assignments?
  • Are there materials that I consider to be “easily accessible” (e.g., laundry basket, socks, toilet paper, towels) that my students might not have access to?
  • Will asking my students to use physical activity equipment/materials be realistic for a range of settings (e.g., house, condo, apartment)?
  • Do my students mostly live in apartments or places with limited space or access to safe outdoor areas?

Students with IEPs or 504 plans

  • What students in my class have disabilities or specific needs?
  • How can I meet their needs (e.g., closed caption, providing materials ahead of a scheduled meeting time, sending recordings of meetings afterward, visual aids, tutorials, individual virtual meetings)?
  • Can any of the accommodations or modifications be used for all of my students?
  • Will wearing face coverings impact students’ ability to interpret emotions and facial expressions and ability to hear speech?

English-language learners

  • How will I make assignments available?
  • How will I communicate with parents/guardians?
  • What additional aids will I need to help students understand assignments?
  • Who can I use as a resource for help in supporting English-language learners?
  • Will wearing face coverings impact students’ ability to hear speech and understand what is being said?

Suggested citation: SHAPE America. (2020). School reentry considerations: K-12 physical education, health education, and physical activity. Reston, VA: Author.

The recommendations and strategies provided herein are obtained based on guidance for schools provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and national recommendations for physical education, health education, recess, and classroom-based physical activity. The COVID-19 outbreak is an ongoing, rapidly developing situation. Educators are encouraged to monitor publicly available information and to always follow federal, state and local health organization guidance and government mandates. This information may vary and will be updated as necessary.