In-stride Online: How the Prep HEX Department is Navigating COVID

Cara Weigand, Staff Writer

Seattle Prep teachers from the Health and Exercise Department have risen to the challenge of navigating online classes with a variety of creative and engaging solutions. With the first semester being almost entirely online due to COVID, the HEX department was forced to adjust much of its curriculum for freshmen, sophomore, and junior classes.

Some classes, like freshmen Health and Exercise, are considered more academic, with students spending about half their class on Zoom learning about different components and internal systems of the human body. “We were able to learn both online as a class and individually by doing our own workouts,” said freshman Charles Casey.

For other HEX classes, the transition to online learning was more difficult. Sophomore and junior classes such as Strength and Conditioning and Life Fitness rely on gym equipment such as basketballs, hockey sticks, and weights to successfully lead workouts. When asked how teachers were able to work around this at home, HEX program head Mrs. Sullivan said, “We got creative. Students used everything from weighted backpacks, books, and even soup cans.”

Beyond the need for equipment, the program also faced the issue of location. For many students, completing a full-body HIIT workout or running exercise was not practical at home over Zoom. To combat this, students brought their learning outside—to backyards and sports courts and even public parks and fields. HEX teacher Mr. Smith said, “while it seemed difficult at first, students were actually able to think outside the box which was great to see.”

When hybrid learning was instituted near the end of the first semester, the transition from fully remote learning to 25% classroom capacity was smooth. The freshmen Health and Exercise classes were able to maintain the same academic class structure, with the help of Swivl camera technology. For more active classes like sophomore and junior Life Fitness, students who attended in-person school were able to play socially-distanced games like badminton and pickleball while their classmates at home continued to do individual workouts.

While these changes ensured that students could have the best possible learning experience during COVID, there is no denying that HEX over Zoom has drawbacks. “Students really miss out on both the competitiveness and bonding that can occur during in-person teaching, but they have taken the challenges brought on by COVID in stride,” said Smith.

With the promise of in-person learning returning at some level in the near future, the HEX department is ready to welcome students back into both the gym and classroom.