SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — During a normal school day, kids of all ages participate in a P.E. class, that was not the case for students who went virtual during the pandemic.

There are concerns at least partially learning online had affected children’s ability to exercise.

“We have an instructor-led video where they learn from us, whatever we’re doing,” said Danielle O’Neil, a P.E. teacher for grades first through fifth. “A lot of barriers come with online P.E., I think. I prefer in-person a lot more because I can give that instant feedback. I’m there with the kids. I can help motivate them.”

However, older students said their P.E. is more of self-motivation.

“I took P.E. Over the summer last year, you had to wear a Fitbit watch,” said Andrew Johnson, a ninth-grader at Glendale High School.

Some other high school kids said they have more time to pursue their hobbies, like mountain biking.

“I can come to ride my bike pretty well as soon as a school day would normally end, versus having to go to and from school and waste all that time,” said Tucker Zweerink, a tenth grader at Kickapoo High School, “I can move around during the middle of the day if I want to, versus being stuck in a seat all day.”

One student said being out of school gives them more opportunities to be outdoors.

“I like virtual a lot better,” said Cooper Talburt, a tenth grader at Glendale High School. “I’m going to switch to all online this coming fa. I like it a lot better. I can go outside and make my own schedule instead of having to be stuck in the classroom all day,”

Whether you’re getting your exercise through online P.E. or on your own time, everyone says it’s an important part of a child’s development.

“Instilling that level of physical activity and health and wellness young, is what’s going to make them successful in leading that type of lifestyle,” said O’Neil.

O’Neil also said physical movement, especially with kids, will also help boost their academic performance and helps them learn not to be too squirmy in class and concentrate better.