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14-year-old Challis student Bodie Morley winds up for a swing during PE class. Teacher Ed Gregory said students love being back together after they were forced to exercise at home last spring.

As his students ripped miniature whiffle balls across the Challis High School football field with golf clubs earlier this month, physical education teacher Ed Gregory made sure rules were being followed.

“Get back on the track,” he said to a few students waiting several feet behind their classmates. Although part of his directive was to maintain physical distancing standards during PE class, Gregory also said it also keeps kids from getting hurt.

As if proving Gregory’s point, strong winds took 14-year-old Bodie Morley’s ball and brought it within inches of another’s students temple.

Since school began in August, Gregory said he’s had to implement games and activities that keep kids spaced apart, due to the coronavirus. There are things to do indoors that allow for distancing, but earlier this month the weather was nice enough to let students head outside.

“It’s been nice,” student Korbyn Arneson said about playing outside, and being allowed to have PE class in general. Arneson and several other students said it’s been great to hang out together again after school buildings were closed last spring and students studied remotely.

Gregory explained when it comes to remote learning, “PE doesn’t work that way.” Last spring Gregory tried to assign omework in the form of a mile run, sprints and two daily activities, but Gregory said it’s not the same as being in a PE class.

Part of the point of physical education within schools is to reinforce camaraderie and teamwork, Gregory said.

The biggest difference in PE during a pandemic is the need to be diligent about cleaning equipment, wearing face coverings when appropriate and maintaining physical distance, Gregory said.

With cold weather’s arrival and PE class moving back indoors, Gregory said he has plenty of activities planned for his students, like indoor soccer and badminton.