PE Exemptions


 Following an amendment made in Illinois legislation regarding PE exemptions, DGS is working to change semester-long PE exemptions to season-long beginning in the 2018-19 school year.

According to Senate Bill 1947, athletes in Illinois may be exempt from their PE courses for “ongoing participation in an interscholastic athletic program.” At DGS, “ongoing” will be interpreted as juniors and seniors in-season for a varsity sport. Athletes will be required to return to a PE course before their season begins and after their season is over.

“The policy is really unchanged. Juniors and seniors in a varsity sport will be allowed to apply for a waiver from PE while in season. The difference is once their season is over or before their season begins, they will have to be in PE,” Principal Ed Schwartz said.

Students who are exempt from PE will be able to choose what PE class they will take while they are not in season. Classes that result in a certification such as personal training or self defense, will not be options for this exempt students due to the amount of classwork a student athlete may miss while in-season.

Athletics director Randall Konstans’ roll in exempting students from PE has been confirming the student requesting exemption is indeed a varsity athlete. Konstans believes that requiring a student to return to PE following their season will be beneficial in their training and athleticism.

“Most of the coaches, not all of them, but most of them tell their athletes when you go to pick your PE, we want you in Fitness; we want you lifting. They can get their lifting and conditioning in during the school day,” Konstans said.

Sophomore Canyon Stage recognizes the importance of PE classes, but believes they provide an unnecessary risk for student athletes.

“I think this new rule is only discouraging student athletes. Gym class is a wonderful thing for the average student as it encourages physical activity, but for the students who already workout everyday for their sport, gym is an unnecessary risk,” Stage said.

Administration is continuing to work with the PE department to figure out a grading system while these athletes are in-season and exempt from PE. Varsity soccer coach and PE teacher Nathan Terry explained that the grade an athlete receives while in-season will reflect their participation and dedication to their varsity sport.

“If you’re a part of the team and you’re playing everyday and you’re practicing, all that kind of stuff, you’re in good standing with the team, you would come in with 100 percent on your daily work, and then from there on out work you did in class would be representative of that grade,” Terry said.

As a varsity soccer coach, Terry does not encourage his athletes to be exempt. According to Terry, there are no varsity soccer players he knows of that are currently exempt from P.E.

“I still feel like P.E is important because its not just about the activity, it’s about the process of it going into learning environment, whether it be content in class and nature of it or the growth as a member of a team and community,” Terry said.

According to Assistant Principal Vince Walsh-Rock, each year there is an average of 40-50 DGS varsity athletes that choose to be exempt from PE.

Junior George Willer is a member of the boy’s cross country team and prior to SB1947 was looking forward to a semester-long PE exemption his senior year.

“[Athletes] have a chance to recover and work on their certain skills like running, football or basketball whatever sport you choose to do. You can always strengthen stuff, do stretching, rolling, those are some of the positives for having that time off,” Willer said.

While varsity athletes with an exemption are in-season, they will be enrolled in a study hall during the day. Previously, this study hall spanned the entire semester but once an athlete is out of season the study hall will end, and their PE class will take its place.

Senior Naomi Cimmino is currently exempted from PE due to her spot on the girls varsity basketball team and has used her free period to take other classes.

“It’s easier because I am able to take more classes and get more credits because I have eight period off for practice too. It’s just been easier to manage my time,” Cimmino said.

Cimmino will graduate before the new policy is enforced, but is sympathetic towards other varsity athletes who will witness the change.

“I feel like it’s going to be harder for varsity athletes to have time for everything and take classes they might need to take,” Cimmino said.

The specifics of how this law will look within DGS are still being sorted out by the PE department and administration. The DGS student body will see the full effect of the change once it is implemented in the 2018-19 school year.