Charlottesville High School students can now get credit for an active lifestyle.  Participating in a team sport and working out in a gym will help complete physical education requirements and free up student schedules for other courses.

The school is piloting an online physical education class this summer that moves the classroom into the virtual world while tracking student exercise in real world.

“We decided to add it into the mix because our students and parents are really asking for flexibility,” said Stephanie Carter, the school’s program administrator for virtual education.  “We have students that live such robust and rich lives, and have so many interests outside of a typical high school schedule, that they were really interested in taking PE on their own time and at their own pace.”

This summer, Charlottesville High School will offer a six-week pilot of the virtual physical education course limited to 20 students in both PE 9 and PE 10. 

Carter says the online curriculum educates students about healthy eating habits and different kinds of exercises.  Each student also receives a wrist watch like device that tracks their physical activity.

“It seems like online and PE could not work together, but actually it works really, really  well,” Carter said.

MOVBands used in CHS online PE class

“It’s a rigorous physical education course and students learn physical education fundamentals while logging activities that they do,” said Carter.  “We have wrist bands so they can track their movements and they can track different data to give to their teacher to validate their activities and monitor their own health.”

Stephanie Thrift, a ninth grader and member of the CHS girls varsity lacrosse team, said she would be switching to the online version of PE to complete her 10th grade course requirement.

Thrift said the online course would not only help class schedules but also make more time available for summer jobs and sports.

“Gym during the day takes up so much time and you need another class period,” Thrift said.  “Summer gym also takes up a lot of time…and we all have summer jobs so we don’t have time [for it].”

“A lot of us do summer swim leagues, so it will be good to record the two hours of swimming we do every day for that,” Thrift added.

Thrift’s teammate, tenth grader Caroline Clark, thinks the new offering is a “great idea.”

“I play varsity field hockey and varsity lacrosse,” Clark said.  “Time for all of us as student athletes is very limited, so I feel that…100 minutes of PE before an away game…is really unnecessary.  We would benefit so much more from taking another class that we want to fit in our schedule and don’t have time for.”

“The PE curriculum isn’t very rigorous, and you get a lot more out of sports,” Clark said.  “I think it’s really unnecessary to do both at the same time.”

Albemarle County’s School Board has previously questioned the need for having varsity athletes take PE courses and many student athletes sign up for summer PE to avoid conflicts with other courses and sports.

Physical education instructors in the county expressed reluctance to waive the course requirement given the other benefits in the PE curriculum.

Asked about the reaction by Charlottesville’s PE teachers, Carter said they supported the pilot program and they will be the ones teaching the course.

“I think our PE teachers are excited about our kids having an alternative,” Carter said.  “Just like with anything new, they want to make sure that it works and they are mostly concerned with making sure that our students meet the full curriculum and that they are in no way getting less of an experience online than they would in the classroom.”

“We are in a revolution of public education in how we look at school days and how we look at a regular schedule, so I think it’s enticing to lots of students,” Carter added.

Carter said out of district students, for example from neighboring Albemarle, will also be able to apply for enrollment in the summer online PE class.

Students interested in enrolling for the summer or fall may contact a Charlottesville High School counselor at 245-2410.