PE exemption affects student athletes

By Faith Oak and Eden Ovadia

This past summer, Granada Hills Charter High School (GHC) modified their physical education (PE) policy to give sports coaches and athletes more flexibility with class schedules and practice times.

This change is in response to new California Department of Education standards requiring PE classes to focus on skill building in key areas that were otherwise not addressed. Their purpose is to monitor students’ level of fitness in a more accurate and efficient way through individualized assessments.

To achieve these requirements, new PE courses were added for students to choose from, including Recreation and Aerobics, Fitness for Life, Basketball Fitness, Volleyball Fitness, Soccer Fitness, Weight Training, Hockey Fitness, Softball Fitness, Racquet Sports and Fitness, and Outdoor Education Orienteering/Walking Skills.

Participation in a sports team still contributes to students’ two-year PE course graduation requirement. For all California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) sports, one semester of sports is now equal to one semester of PE.

Therfore, students who participate in four semesters of a sport never have to take PE.

In order to fulfill the 230 credits needed to graduate, affected athletes can now add an additional class to their schedule. Students are free to choose any elective that GHC offers, including the aforementioned new PE courses. They may also still opt to take study hall during a class period if it is offered.

A common misconception amongst students is that all sports teams will resort to practicing after school hours. This rumor was perpetuated by the petition that was widely shared last semester, which stated that “Granada Hills Charter High School is voting on removing sports teams from practicing during 6th period and instead they will need to start practice after school. Students would be able to take PE in addition to playing their sport, but it will take up more time in their busy schedules and make them a lot more exhausted.”

The petition earned a total of 1,106 signatures. However, this petition was not valid when discussing the policy change, as it was based on inaccurate information.

“We were definitely aware of its existence. We would have taken it into consideration if the information posted was accurate. Because the information posted was incorrect, it made it hard to consider,” Administrative Director Julia Howelman said.

The writers of the petition, and consequently many of the students and parents who signed it, misunderstood that this year’s sports scheduling cannot be described as a “blanket policy”; it does not apply to all students.

Each coach has some freedom to choose what he/she believes is best for the team, which could mean having practice during or after school. However, there are still many students who have been negatively affected.

“Because of this new policy, I usually get home around 6:00, instead of 5:00. I would prefer to keep it as it was in previous years, since I was already incredibly tired after practice ended every day,” senior tennis player Ada Hu said.

Students in teams with walk-on (non GHC teacher) coaches may have to move their practice after school rather than during a class period, depending on the coach’s credentials.

Those cases are still determined on an individual, case-by-case basis, so it does not apply to all sports with a walk-on coach.

Although many students are unsatisfied with how the changes have affected their schedule, the decision was made in their best interests, in order to help them develop their athletic skills in a more meaningful way and give them a chance to take the classes they want to. In the end this policy change will help students have a more enriched experience.

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