Fit freshmen can qualify for P.E. exemption

Jessica Lee and Cameron Morelli


Freshmen this year that pass at least five of the six components of the physical fitness test (PFT) and pass their P.E. class are eligible to apply for a two-year exemption from P.E.

This two-year exemption has been in district policy and in effect but the exemption has just recently been practiced at Bear Creek after errors in the exemption recording process led to notification of this exemption.

“Early this year, I received notification from our assistant superintendent’s office so we met and were alerted that although we were using some of the exemptions in place we were not having students correctly mark them on the course selection sheet so that’s what started this,” Vice Principal Sera Baysinger said. “It was not a Bear Creek issue. This was a Lodi Unified issue so all of the four high schools had to adjust what they were doing.”

Only current freshmen are eligible for this two year exemption, and they are the only ones that may graduate with 10 P.E. credits. The school administration will not backtrack: sophomores through seniors will need to fulfill the 20 P.E. credit requirement and the ED CODE 5122 requirement of taking P.E. all four years of high school, unless eligible for another exemption.

Students have always been required to take four years of P.E. but almost every student has only taken two years as all sophomores are eligible for the permanent exemption, fulfilling the requirement of being at least 16 years old and being in tenth grade for one or more academic years. Students and counselors just never did the paperwork. Note that juniors and seniors fail to be eligible for the requirement if they failed P.E. and are credit deficient.

The PFT will be administered as it is regularly. Students will only be allowed to take and retake the test their freshmen year. The school administration is looking at submitting the data by the early bird deadline instead of the regular deadline in order to get the preliminary results back before the end of the school year.

“This year we’re going to try to submit everything by February 20,” P.E. teacher Corina Ayala said. “Usually we submit everything by May. This way we can get the results, and the counselors and the students can figure out what classes they want to take.”

Although the official results of the PFT may be slightly different from the preliminary results, the preliminary results give students a better idea of whether or not they should take P.E. Official reports will come back during the summer, during which time the counselors may be able to notify students.

To apply for any exemption, students will have to fill out the P.E. exemption form. The superintendent will decide whether or not to approve the request for the two-year or permanent exemption.

The P.E. exemption for participating in two sports will no longer exist after this year but this change won’t affect students because those students had to pass at least five out of the six components of the PFT and would now qualify for the two-year exemption.

The two-year exemption is expected to decrease P.E. class sizes. Administration is looking into adding additional P.E. electives.

“Currently, we have aerobics and weight training as P.E. electives but there are other electives that other schools already have an approved course within our district so if we had a teacher here who met the requirements for teaching those particular courses like a dance and movement course we would be able to bring that here,” Baysinger said. “It wouldn’t meet a P.E. requirement but would be an elective that would be within the PE department so then there would still be sections that the PE department would teach.”

P.E. teachers express concern over the impact such an exemption would have on students’ health.

“The reason why we have physical education is because we’re trying to establish some type of workout in your life as if it were a routine like brushing your teeth: you have to for your health,” Ayala said. “Once [students] pass [the PFT and get an exemption] and they’re not in a sport or doing anything extracurricular, when are they gonna work out? I just worry about kids not making it a priority to make fitness a part of their life.”

Some freshmen are happy about the addition of the exemption because they now have more leeway in their schedule.

“I have other elective classes I want to take and, once I get P.E. out of the way, I will be able to take those classes,” freshman Khennathan Chorn said.

Hopefully, the P.E. teachers will be able to submit data by the early bird deadline so students can receive their preliminary results before the end of the school year.