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The Dartmouth
June 23, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Virtual PE classes suspended for second term


Students hoping to ski their way to a physical education credit this term will have to pack up their poles until next year. Though the spring and summer terms offered virtual PE classes for students, fall and winter feature no such options. Even snowsports lessons, a hallmark of Dartmouth’s PE program, will not count for PE credit this winter.

Though the College’s regular PE requirements — three credits and a swim test — were waived for the Classes of 2020 and 2021, some students still chose to participate in the virtual courses offered by the College during the first two terms of the pandemic. In the spring, five sections of “Pandemic Personal Wellness” and one section of “Inside Snowsports” were offered virtually, with enrollment numbers ranging from eight to 15 students, the maximum enrollment for most virtual PE classes.

In the summer, the College offered 13 virtual PE sections on a broader range of activities, including virtual sailing, Zumba and mindfulness. While some of the courses saw no enrollment, others saw more than 10 participants. One class, “Mobile Cardio with Strava,” had 23 students enrolled out of a possible 40. 

Senior associate athletic director for physical education and recreation Joann Brislin noted that the PE department deemed these courses a success participation-wise. 

“We were very pleased with our attendance,” she said.

Despite student participation in virtual PE courses, all PE programming was halted for the fall term, with no virtual or in-person courses offered. When asked about the rationale for discontinuing the virtual PE programming, Brislin cited the spread of COVID-19.

“As the weeks of the pandemic progressed, there was concern about long-term effects, and as we prepared to welcome students back to campus, concern about the spread of the virus,” Brislin wrote in an email. “With caution and with best practices for the health, safety and well-being of our students, the decision was made to put a hold on PE offerings.” She did not explain how transmission would impact virtual classes in particular.

Brislin noted that “various faculty committees” are engaged in ongoing discussions about academic requirements and PE credits during the terms affected by the pandemic.

While classes will not be available this winter for PE credit, the PE department is still offering snowsports lessons in skiing and snowboarding, available to any student approved to be on campus. Snowsports classes have in the past included seven lessons throughout the term, but the classes this year will not begin until after the quarantine period, and thus there will only be four lessons. The pricing for both the classes and for equipment rentals have been significantly reduced.

Despite the lack of PE credit, interest in the lessons remains high. All of the classes — six sections of Beginning Ski, one of Intermediate Ski, two of Beginning Snowboard and one of Intermediate Snowboard — are currently full.

Jack Gnibus ’24, who is taking ski lessons, said that he is still looking forward to getting outside and being with friends.

“I was excited to take advantage of the skiway that Dartmouth has to offer, and I’ve never been exposed to that type of outdoor sports, so it was a great [opportunity] for me to take lessons and learn how to ski,” he said. 

Emily Zurcher ’21, who is taking snowboarding lessons this winter, said that she is similarly excited for classes to begin. 

“I didn’t really care about snowsports, and then a couple of my friends were into them and said that they were really fun, and I figured, ‘Why not try them out?’” Zurcher said.