Story by Quinn Manzo
Illustration by Nicholas Forman
Students file out onto campus during the breaks, catching up and attempting to find a bit of normalcy, and then shuffle into half-empty classrooms wearing masks. South Pasadena High School has implemented numerous changes to its schedule and class structure since its swift transition to hybrid learning on Thursday, April 15. The distance learning model of P.E. encouraged independence and overall wellness, whereas hybrid P.E. prioritizes human connection and having fun while being active.
P.E. for the distance learners is divided into two sections. A teacher leads a warm-up for the first 40 minutes of class and guides an asynchronous cardio the second half. For 40 minutes, students can choose whatever mode of exercise they want, as long as it gets their heart rate up and they document their activity.
“I do karate classes in Eagle Rock, so it’s about an eight- mile walk three times a week,” senior Isaac Blekhman said. “Through hybrid, I’m able to at least go to the P.E. field and get motivated to warm up and exercise. It’s healthy to get the blood flowing and throwing a frisbee is surprisingly fun. P.E. is one of the only classes I want to be back in in-person [learning].”
P.E. teacher Jerry Wulf prioritized safety when his classes first transitioned to the hybrid model, and also hoped P.E. would be a way for his students to relieve stress. The P.E. department chose ultimate frisbee as the first unit of hybrid learning, because it’s a fast-paced sport and it’s outdoors, eliminating any social distancing and ventilation issues. Wulf emphasized the need to be particularly careful, stating that the students are not just six, but 15 feet apart during class.
Coming back on campus has given teachers and staff a chance to meet their students face to face and get to know them better. This was a notable element for Wulf, who expressed that without a doubt, he prefers hybrid over distance learning, and wished that more students had chosen to come back on campus.
“I’d much rather be in the classroom or out on the field teaching. It’s the way [classes] should be,” Wulf said. “[There’s] nothing better than being there, and hands- on teaching, walking around and helping them, and encouraging them. It’s a lot better being in person.”
To teachers, following safety guidelines means connecting with their students beyond the screen. Wulf hopes that South Pasadena residents continue reducing COVID-19 cases so his class can continue to stay active on the field.