Instruction usually happens in a classroom, but the novel coronavirus is forcing schools to switch things up during school closures that aim to prevent the spread.
The John Cooper School is among the local schools hoping to provide some normalcy to its students with the introduction of a new long-distance exercise program.
Cooper, like all other local schools, will be out of the building for the foreseeable future in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the upper-respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
While creating the ‘LDE,’ which is set to begin Monday, Cooper athletic director John Hoye spoke to friends at schools in Seattle and Boston — two cities in particularly hard-hit states when it comes to the coronavirus — for ideas.
“That’s the exact reason I reached out to them — to see what worked with them, what was different and trying to combine everything they were doing,” Hoye said in a phone interview Friday. “I wanted to make it as seamless and easy for us as possible.”
With the school being closed until at least April 10, getting familiar faces together is important to Hoye.
The exercise program will have video instruction from Cooper teachers. The physical activity alone is helpful, and the mental break was particularly important to Hoye and the Cooper staff that are putting the program together.
The LDE breaks students into four groups based on grade level and will provide new lessons weekly while archiving old ones.
Girls soccer coach Amber Clevenger made videos demonstrating ‘exercise bingo’ from her backyard, a game that involved shooting socks into a laundry basket, and another one kicking a ball between two soup can posts in her home’s hallway.
Boys basketball coach Matthew Wilson explained the rules of a ‘snowball battle royale’ in which kids wear a laundry-basket backpack and try to throw socks into others’ baskets while avoiding return fire.
Girls basketball coach BJ Feuerhelm demonstrated a game where someone blows bubbles, then kids pop as many as they can while counting their progress.
Some factors considered in the making of lessons included available space, limited equipment, social distancing and, of course, age.
“We made them age-appropriate as much as possible,” Hoye said. “They’re self-starters in high school, so for them it’s more similar to a workout you’d see with a personal trainer. It’s just digital.”
The Southwest Preparatory Conference, in which Cooper is a member, has announced cancellations of athletic events through April 13. Hoye said coaches will come up with creative ways to keep in contact with teams throughout the hiatus as well.
The goal of the new LDE is not only to get students up and moving during extended time at home. The mental break will be a welcome one for kids and teachers, too.
“You could debate if (the mental aspect is) almost more important, especially depending on the length of this situation,” Hoye said. “To be able to just have the breaks in the day and change up some things, I think it will be very, very important. We’re in this with them. I think it’s good for our people, too, to do different things.”