How can children exercise and return to play in a way that will minimize the possibility of contracting or transmitting the virus? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 60 minutes of daily physical activity for children. Governments around the world are asking people to stay at home and adopt physical distancing. We are reminded daily to practice special hygiene measures to help slow and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Meanwhile, health experts encourage outdoor recreation and exercise for promoting mental health, physical fitness, and cognitive development.

Using information from The Aspen Institute, CDC, and local county health departments, the National Academy of Athletics has devised a solution.  The NAofA has put together “return to play” programs to keeping Physical Education a part of School Curriculums.

We can not let budget cuts and social distancing stop our children from receiving Physical Education.

“Sadly, there is a direct correlation with reduced opportunity for physical activity and sports in school age children and the number of overweight
and obese Americans. It has reached epidemic proportions with two-thirds
of adults and nearly one in three children are overweight or obese.”

US Department of Health and Human Services
returning to physical education

COVID-19 and Physical Education

Many schools were forced to lower their standards at the end of the 2019-2020 school year with the recent distance learning. During this time there was the Executive Order N-56-20.  This order addressed minimum PE instructional minutes, PE course facilities, and the PFT during the state of emergency as a result of the threat of COVID-19.

Heading into Fall 2020, the State of California is looking to hold schools more accountable to meet or exceed the minimum standards.  Required Physical Education: California mandates at least 200 minutes of physical education every 10 school days in grades 1-6, and a daily recess. The state also mandates at least 400 minutes every 10 school days of physical education in grades 7-8.

The California Department of Education stated that, although the minimum instructional minutes for PE have been previously waived, requirements have not changed. LEAs will still be required to provide  PE instruction and should provide distance learning options in alignment with local policy. Local policy will determine implementation of  PE based on student need and access to resources. The CDE Resources that Support Distance Learning web page provides resources to assist LEAs in providing distance learning for PE.

School Scheduling Options with Integrated PE

School educators are undoubtedly aware of all the benefits of physical exercise. How it helps to relieve stress and anxiety while equipping children with the tools to lead healthier lifestyles. Heading into Fall 2020, the approach to physical education, lunch, and recess, in schools will have to change.

There are challenges associated with distance learning, reduced classroom sizes, and altered classroom practices.  These obstacles have hit physical education programs extremely hard. It is a huge undertaking to plan for reduced budgets, while meeting California State guidelines and providing effective PE classes. As COVID-19 prevention plans remain in place for the upcoming year, schools will need solutions to this “return to play” problem.  

In the following documentation you will be able to review numerous SOLUTIONS the NAofA has drafted to help schools fulfill Physical Education requirements. Please reach out. There is nothing more important to us, then the health and well-being of America’s youth.

Read about our solutions by downloading: Returning to School Physical Education

To receive more information or to find a solution for your school, please complete the following form.

Two Aspen Institute programs partnered to develop this resource:

Sports & Society Program logoThe Sports & Society Program’s mission is to convene leaders, foster dialogue, and inspire solutions that help sport serve the public interest. Since 2011, the program has provided leadership and breakthrough strategies that can be developed on a range of opportunities. The signature initiative, Project Play, develops, applies and shares knowledge that helps stakeholders build healthy communities through sports. To learn more, visit

Health, Medicine and Society Program logoThe Health, Medicine and Society (HMS) Program, the domestic health initiative at the Aspen Institute, seeks out bold, creative, and practical solutions to the health and medicine challenges facing the United States in the 21st century. It is a magnet for some of the nation’s sharpest leaders, intellects, and practitioners. HMS promotes cross-disciplinary learning, disruptive thinking, and broad dissemination of knowledge designed to build better health for all. To learn more, visit

The materials are based on CDC gidelines, and were reviewed by experts from the American College of Sports Medicine and the Hospital for Special Surgery which also offer free resources. We also thank officials at various national sport governing bodies for sharing their input.