Show an ad over header. AMP

The cost of kids losing gym class

With a growing number of schools opting for online-only classes this fall to limit the spread of COVID-19, physical education will be severely limited, if not suspended altogether.

Why it matters: While classroom-based learning can be done virtually, it's nearly impossible to replicate physical education — which plays a crucial role in kids' physical and mental health — through a screen. And with sports on hold in most states, PE is the only physical activity outlet some kids have.


  • Even schools offering in-person instruction this fall must re-imagine what gym class looks like amid a pandemic, with kids unable to share balls or equipment and with strict social distancing and sanitation guidelines in place.

The backdrop: Youth sports organizations helped ensure that kids got their daily 60 minutes of exercise this summer by hosting Zoom workouts, offering virtual training and providing parents with tips and ideas.

  • Some organizations will continue in that role once school resumes, but with youth sports participation on the decline — particularly among lower-income families — the majority of students will rely solely on PE.
  • By the numbers: Only 38% of kids aged 6 to 12 played team sports on a regular basis in 2018, down from 45% in 2008, per the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.

The state of play: In addition to the wide disparities in students' access to laptops and other digital resources, the ability to lead a successful online PE class will largely depend on how comfortable a teacher is with technology.

  • While tech-savvy teachers have been hosting live workouts on apps like Facebook and Instagram, others wouldn't even know where to begin.
  • And unlike virtual education (i.e. classroom-based learning), virtual training is a relatively new industry and has seen far less investment and innovation.
  • Services like Microsoft Teams can simulate what it's like to be in a classroom, with one person talking and others taking notes and asking questions. But how do you simulate dodgeball?

The big picture: Physical activity has been linked to higher academic achievement, elevated self-esteem and reduced stress and anxiety, according to the CDC.

  • Whether that's still true when students are participating virtually, rather than running around with classmates, remains to be seen. But it's clear that PE is an important source for more than just physical activity.
  • Our thought bubble: The social interaction alone is something kids desperately need, particularly when they've been cooped up for months and won't be chatting with friends in hallways or socializing in lunchrooms.

The bottom line: While teaching math or science virtually is no easy feat, keeping kids physically active and participating in PE through the confines of a computer or phone screen is arguably even harder.

  • If schools fail to encourage some sort of physical outlet, America's youth — most of whom don't play organized sports, and almost all of whom are currently unable to participate in them — will suffer.

Trump introduces Amy Coney Barrett as nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg

President Trump announced he's nominating federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.

Why it matters: She could give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the high court, and her nomination sets in motion a scramble among Senate Republicans to confirm her with 38 days before the election. Leader Mitch McConnell appears to have the votes to confirm Barrett with the current majority.

Keep reading... Show less

Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee set to start Oct. 12

Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee are tentatively scheduled to begin Oct. 12, two Senate sources familiar with the plans told Axios.

Why it matters: The committee's current schedule could allow Senate Republicans to confirm the nominee weeks before November's election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell currently has enough votes to confirm Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who is expected as the president's pick.

Keep reading... Show less

A hinge moment for America's role in the world

The world may be living through the last gasps of America First— or just getting a taste of what's to come.

Why it matters: President Trump's message at this week's virtual UN General Assembly was short and relatively simple: global institutions like the World Health Organization are weak and beholden to China; international agreements like the Iran deal or Paris climate accord are "one-sided"; and the U.S. has accomplished more by going its own way.

Keep reading... Show less

New York daily coronavirus cases top 1,000 for first time since June

New York on Friday reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases for the first since June.

Why it matters: The New York City metropolitan area was seen as the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the spring. But strict social distancing and mask mandates helped quell the virus' spread, allowing the state to gradually reopen.

Keep reading... Show less

America on edge as SCOTUS, protests and 2020 collide

Rarely have national security officials, governors, tech CEOs and activists agreed as broadly and fervently as they do about the possibility of historic civil unrest in America.

Why it matters: The ingredients are clear for all to see — epic fights over racism, abortion, elections, the virus and policing, stirred by misinformation and calls to action on social media, at a time of stress over the pandemic.

Keep reading... Show less

The long-term pain of the mental health pandemic

A less visible but still massive trauma caused by the coronavirus is becoming clear: our mental health is suffering with potentially long-lasting consequences.

Why it matters: Mental health disorders that range from schizophrenia to depression and anxiety exert a severe cost on personal health and the economy. Addressing that challenge may require out-of-the-box solutions.

Keep reading... Show less

Preview: "Axios on HBO" interviews Bob Woodward

On the next episode of "Axios on HBO," journalist Bob Woodward tells Axios National Political Correspondent Jonathan Swan why he spoke out about President Trump being the "wrong man for the job."

  • "I did not want to join the ranks of the Senate Republicans who know that Trump is the wrong man for the job, but won't say it publicly," Woodward said.

Catch the full interview on Monday, Sept. 28 at 11 p.m. ET/PT on all HBO platforms.

Trump picks Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Supreme Court

Judge Amy Coney Barrett — expected to be named by President Trump today to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — would give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court, and an edge on issues from abortion to the limits of presidential power.

The big picture: Republicans love the federal appeals court judge's age — she is only 48 — and her record as a steadfast social conservative.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories