UNC Active Schools Institute receives $ 125,000 to evaluate physical education pilot program and develop reintegration guidelines


The Active Schools Institute at the University of Northern Colorado has received two grants totaling $ 125,000 from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) to improve the quality of physical education and physical activity opportunities for students. Kindergarten to Grade 12 students in Colorado.

Pilot program to teach health and wellness through comprehensive and quality physical education (grant of $ 90,000)

Currently, there are no requirements for K-12 physical education in Colorado. In May 2019, a bill was passed and enacted to address this issue with part of the bill including a three-year grant to create and implement a physical education pilot program for Colorado schools. .

The role of the UNC is to assess the performance of the pilot program in two elementary schools and two middle schools within three school districts (Thompson School District, Denver Public Schools and Center Colorado). Approximately 1,000 students will be assessed over a three-year period. The pilot program includes daily physical education versus the varied and often minimal physical education offerings that currently exist in Colorado schools.

The assessment will compare data before and after program implementation to see if there are improvements in student performance in the classroom, fitness outcomes (cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength), and other areas. health and well-being (for example, mental health and sleep).

Jaimie McMullen, Ph.D. is the principal investigator, and Brian Dauenhauer, Ph.D., and Jennifer Krause, Ph.D., are the co-principal investigators; all are associate professors of sport and exercise science at UNC. Xiaoping Fan and Taemin Ha, doctoral students in the UNC Physical Education and Physical Activity Leadership Program, assist by developing data collection practices and collecting and analyzing data before and after implementation of the pilot program.

Data collection on students from participating school districts prior to the start of the pilot will take place in the spring. Then those schools will implement the pilot program in fall 2021, and McMullen and his team will collect new data from fall 2021 to 2023.

Jaimie McMullen, Ph.D.“We’re really excited and in a good position to do a pilot assessment,” said McMullen. “The results of the pilot project are significant because there are currently no requirements in Colorado for K-12 physical education. The hope is that the results will inform state policy and lead to better physical education requirements in the state. ”

Return to School Guidelines for Physical Education and Physical Activity ($ 35,000 grant)

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect many areas of society, including education and, more specifically, physical activity in K-12 schools. As schools continue to change how they teach students, it is important to ensure that the health and safety of students is a priority while providing them with a high quality education.

The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) funded 16 states through the School Health Partners grant program to safely teach physical education during the pandemic, and Colorado was one of the selected states. UNC received funding through CDE in October to develop guidelines and associated state-wide trainings in the spring for schools and their stakeholders, such as teachers, to learn best practices for safely providing physical education and physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. This will include safety precautions and mitigation efforts for physical education, regardless of the format in which the class is taught: in-person, hybrid, or virtual environments.

For example, in-person physical education recommendations are to move away from contact sports, such as basketball, and move towards individualized / doubles sports, such as racquet sports, where it is not. there is no contact. For virtual learning, recommendations include balancing screen time and active time for students to ensure they continue to be physically active while learning remotely.

Another important part of the guidelines is to ensure that equity, inclusion, and accessibility are included for vulnerable student populations, such as students with chronic illnesses, homelessness, foster care and / or living in rural communities.

“There are guidelines from national agencies and other schools, but these guidelines that we are working on will be specific to Colorado and the circumstances in our schools,” McMullen said. “We consulted with several state physical education teachers to develop these guidelines with their needs in mind. ”

McMullen and Krause are the principal investigators of this grant, and Dan Diaz Gilligan, a Colorado School of Public Health graduate student at UNC, helped conduct a needs assessment and develop the template document for the guidelines. .

“UNC has always been proud of its physical education teacher education program and we are always looking for ways to connect and give back to the community,” McMullen said. “UNC has the only graduate program in physical education in the state, and therefore getting our students to do authentic research and get involved in projects like these helps them better prepare them for their future roles in physical education. ”

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—Written by Katie Corder

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