When his gymnasium was closed due to Covid, Crescent Elementary School physical education teacher Cam Shannon found creative ways to keep his students moving. Shannon did not want to skimp on kids' exercise.
"It's extremely important, especially physical education," said Shannon. "That can make the difference in the test scores as well.
"Get them up and moving a little bit, get the blood flowing a little bit, that increases their learning.
"And it's very important, health-wise, because a lot of kids, they're not as active at home as they are when there's school.
"It's extremely important to keep them active," he said.
Crescent Elementary Principal Teresa Lewis explained that, since Covid has struck, her elementary school has had to close just one class due to the virus. Although gyms are permitted to open under the new Department of Education guidelines, Lewis and her school leadership team decided to keep the gym closed, to offer protection to the school.
"We had been very fortunate, and, if it was working, why change it?" she explained.
Despite the move, she and Shannon both wanted to see kids staying active. Shannon began to develop a strategy for going into classrooms and getting kids in each class active.
"It takes somebody very innovative to be able to get kids up and physically active in the classroom and Mr. Shannon has done an incredible job engaging students to still be active during the school day," Lewis said. "He has truly stepped up to the bat and continued teaching our southern West Virginia kids the importance of being physically active."
On the days that they are in the classroom, Shannon travels to each class to do activities with the kids. He has developed games for the kids to play, which he takes to each classroom.
"I'm limited with a lot of the things I can and can't do," he said. "I just go into the classroom and I try to do activities that don't require a lot of sharing of objects and close contact with other students."
Students are divided into two groups, and he teaches a 40-minute class one time a week to each group. Shannon starts with teaching kids about their health, including dieting, the harms of tobacco use and the function of the immune system, for about 20 minutes.
The rest of the class period, he focuses on getting the students physically active.
On Fridays, he posts a video for the kids to do.
"They're activities and challenges at their house," he explained.
The kids, parents and grandparents have expressed gratitude for the lessons.
"I do get a lot of positive feedback from the students and the parents," he noted.
Shannon said that, for the rest of the school year, he will plan to develop classroom and online gym lessons for students.
"Of course, I want to be able to use my gym, but I'm just kind of keeping the mindset on it staying the same," he explained. "If it so happens I do get to use my gym again, that would be a blessing, but all in all, I'm just happy to be able to go in there for the kids and to do some activities with them."