School Reentry Considerations

In-School Instruction With Physical Distancing

If the school deems it safe and appropriate to reopen school buildings based on CDC guidance and state and local regulations, many new protocols and precautions must be put in place to ensure the health and safety of school staff and students.

For in-school instruction, create protocols that allow staff and students to maintain physical distancing guidelines and remain 6 feet apart throughout the entire school day.

All teachers should be aware of the school-wide COVID-19 response team’s plan for sanitation, how to implement a plan for accommodating sick students, and how to monitor any patterns of illness or other concerns that may arise. Schools should also consider accommodations that allow staff and students with underlying medical conditions (that put them at higher risk for severe illness) the opportunity to work or learn from home.

Schools should consider ways to maintain student and staff groupings that are as static as possible by having the same group of students stay together in a learning cohort — all day for young students and as much as possible for older students. Limit non-essential visitors on school grounds and in classrooms. Consider if and/or when it may be appropriate to cancel or reschedule field trips, inter-group events, and extracurricular activities, based on local community COVID-19 guidelines.

Physical Education

Physical education provides K-12 students with a planned, sequential, standards-based program of curricula and instruction designed to develop motor skills, knowledge and behaviors for active living, physical fitness, teamwork, self-efficacy, and emotional intelligence. The skills and knowledge gained by students through physical education are especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SHAPE America and CDC recommend that all students participate in daily physical education in grades K-12, with instruction periods totaling 150 minutes per week in elementary school and 225 minutes per week in middle school and high school.

Use the Table of Contents on the left for the physical environment, personal hygiene, equipment safety & sanitation, and instructional strategies for physical education.

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.