Starting off the New Year Healthy, Active, and Safe

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Returning to learning in 2022 is a phased approach that will start with students learning through a remote environment and will transition back to the school environment. This blog provides tips and access to resources and tools that can assist educators with the implementation of a safe Health and Physical Education program within each of these environments. 

Start with the Basics

The New Year is a great time to reflect, revisit, and renew the learning opportunities related to physical activity and the safety practices needed to maintain a safe learning environment. Opportunities for students to learn, practice, participate in, and enjoy physical activity are an important part of each student’s day-to-day education experience. These opportunities can provide many positive benefits connected to achievement, mental health, well-being and overall student success.

Tips: 

  • Take time to engage students throughout the school year to seek input and inform program planning.  
  • Establish and maintain a safe learning environment for physical activity using the activity/sport pages and tools and resources from the Ontario Physical Activity Safety Standards in Education (OPASSE) as well as the school board policies and procedures related to COVID-19 safety.
  • Maintain ongoing communication with parents/guardians to provide up-to-date information regarding changes in practices/procedures, reinforce the safety practices and maintain a safe learning environment.

Resources/Tools:

Embracing Remote Learning

Remote learning provides an opportunity for students to continue their learning in Health and Physical Education and supports their ability to meet the overall expectations of the curriculum. Providing opportunities for students to continue to participate in physical education activities while they are engaged in remote learning requires careful planning and ongoing communication with students and their parents/guardians.

Tips:

  • Provide opportunities for students to communicate questions or concerns regarding safety during remote learning (for example, potential additional risks that may be present in the home environment).
  • Make connections between the safety practices used at school during Health and Physical Education and the practices that can be used in the remote learning environment.
  • Select activities that require minimal or no equipment and can be done in limited space. Encourage students to do a safety check-in at the beginning of class and a safety check-out at the end. 

Resources/Tools:

  • COVID Considerations for Remote Learning
    • This resource supports school boards and educators with establishing and maintaining a safe remote learning environment for physical education and helps to identify potential risks, protective measures and risk treatment strategies associated with COVID-19.
  • 50 Fitness Activity GIFs
    • This resource helps educators to create a library of core, on-the-spot, fitness moves that are perfect for use in limited space. The GIFs are based on Ophea's 50 Fitness Activity Cards, and they can be used on their own or added to existing activities . They can be used on their own or to diversify existing activities in face-to-face, virtual, and hybrid teaching and learning platforms. Check out this introduction video to learn more about the new 50 Fitness Activity GIFs, how to access them, and different strategies to incorporate them into different learning environments.

Returning to School 

Preparation and planning that is phased in and includes layered controls and protective measures that are aligned with school board and public health policies and procedures will help to support a safe return to learning for students. As part of the return to school planning process it will be important to prioritize the safety of students and allow them to re-engage in physical activities in a way that they feel confident, prepared, and ready to participate.

Tips:

  • Be aware of your school board and local public health unit recommended practices as school boards may increase the COVID-19 safety measures in specific areas to meet local COVID-19 conditions.
  • Consider starting with an introductory lesson that guides students through current and new safety routines (for example, entering and exiting the location/facility, changing clothing (when applicable), strategies to create physical distancing in an activity space etc.).
  • Encourage the use of outdoor space during physical education (for example, students walking in the neighbourhood, games that can be played outdoors, use of green space/parks etc.).

Resources/Tools:

  • COVID-19 Considerations: CurricularIntramural and Interschool Athletics
    • These resources are companion resources to OPASSE that provide enhanced safety considerations specific to COVID-19 and support school boards/schools with maintaining the highest level of student safety during Physical Education.
  • Outdoor Education Tool Kit: Grades 9-12
    • This resource increases teacher awareness, confidence, and preparedness to teach outdoor education safety and risk management, and increases student awareness, confidence, and preparedness about outdoor education safety and risk management.
  • Outdoor Education Tool Kit: Grades 1-8
    • This resource will include lessons, activities, and additional resources to support creating a culture of safety-mindedness before, during, and after outdoor education activities; including tips for engaging students in outdoor education activities and on when and how to integrate land-based learning to build a sense of stewardship and responsibility for this learning environment. 

If you have any additional questions regarding COVID-19 Considerations for Curricular (Health and Physical Education), Intramural Activities, and/or Interschool Athletic Activities, please submit them online at Ask Ophea.

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