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The Impact of COVID-19 on Teachers' Ability to Navigate the Delivery of APE Services

Scott McNamara, Brad Weiner, David Martinez, Heidi Ambrosius, Ann Griffin, Ashlie Beavers, and Jennifer Heebink

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For most of 2020, the landscapes of K–12 schools and universities across the globe were greatly altered, as many schools have moved courses to a virtual setting or to teach students with social distancing safety measures (Lu et al., 2020; Varea & González-Calvo, 2020). Of the academic areas that have been affected, physical education and special education are likely to suffer the greatest effect on the quality of their content and delivery. Special education provides services to students with disabilities who may need additional supports and accommodations to meet their unique needs; however, online settings may be void of the needed supports. In addition, physical education largely focuses on physical activity and heavily relies on equipment for nearly every lesson (Barrett & Lu, 2020). Thus, an area that is likely to be severely affected is adapted physical education (APE), because this area is a subset of physical education that focuses on delivering individualized instruction to students with disabilities (Lieberman et al., 2020)

Physical educators have reported several barriers that interfere with their ability to effectively use technology within their curricula that are unique to their discipline. Gibbone et al. (2010) reported that physical educators perceive that the unique constraints of a limited budget, limited training and large class sizes interfere with their ability to effectively integrate technology in their physical education classes. Given the recent impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on educational delivery methods, it is alarming that there has not been substantial research dedicated to teaching physical education to students with disabilities using hybrid or online teaching models (Killian et al., 2019). According to a recent scoping review (Killian et al., 2019), only nine studies have been conducted since 2000 that focus on the implementation of physical education within an online setting. In addition, none of these studies focused on the implementation or delivery of APE services. Given the immediacy and impact of COVID, literature describing teacher practices that support student learning is both timely and needed.

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