Teaching Physical Education and Sports during Covid-19: A Community Case


Teaching skills depend to a large extent on their “didactization” characterized, in the case of physical and sports education, erected in law and compulsory at school, by a body practice often favoring contacts in extramural. In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic marked by the cessation then the resumption of classes, physical distancing injunctions and the use of detergent products, masks, etc. it seems logical to question the positions of the actors, the feasibility of the Physical Education and Sports (P.E.S.) and the controversies generated by community particularly in the colleges of the Pikine-Guédiawaye Academy Inspectorate and apprehended thanks to mixed methods. In fact, we used participant observation, semi-structured interviews with administrative, pedagogical and community actors and the questionnaire survey addressed to a sample of 115 students drawn according to the quota technique. The objective was to understand the contradictions of the actors concerned. They were manifested by the practice of physical and sports activities at the beach instead of the forbidden Physical Education and Sports (P.E.S.) like all other school subjects, by the exclusion and then the reintegration of the subject with controversies relating to interests different from the administrative and PEPS, by the difficult acceptance of health measures and physical distancing variously manifested, by the question of the adaptation of P.E.S. to the realities of the numbers and spaces leading to lessons at several speeds, by the demotivation of middle school students who no longer experience hedonism in the field and finally by the diversity of the objectives of the authorities who want to save the year, teachers defending their discipline, students deprived of their agitation moments and parents skeptical and fearful of these moments who can expose their children to the disease.

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Diallo, S. (2022) Teaching Physical Education and Sports during Covid-19: A Community Case. Open Journal of Applied Sciences, 12, 1319-1338. doi: 10.4236/ojapps.2022.128091.

1. Introduction

Since the disciplinary specialties that interact in the pedagogical field are numerous and various, they induce differences in approaches dictated, from the didactic point of view, by the particularity of the activity, the contents, the conditions and the teaching environment. In physical education and sports in particular, learning “involves an object which is the own body, itself moving in a particular environment of physical objects” Gindra [1] whose specific role is to “contribute to the improvement and refinement of physical possibilities” P. Parlebas [2] while making the “body a perfect instrument of adaptation of the individual to his environment” J. Le Boulch [3]. These are physical exercises for learners and sports whose biological tools of practices are carried by the body framework interacting with the psychic, psych sociological, etc. aspects of the body to promote balance source of fulfillment. More explicitly, J. J. Rousseau [4] recalled the benefits of this discipline while exhorting educators: “the weaker the body is, the more it commands; the stronger it is, the more it obeys (…). Do you therefore want to cultivate the intelligence of your student, cultivate the forces that must govern him, continually exercise his body, make him robust and healthy to make him wise and reasonable, let him work, let him act, let him run, let him shout, let him always be in motion, let him be a man by rigor and soon he will be for reason”.

In view of these advantages of PES and after UNESCO [5] which establishes it as a “fundamental right for all without discrimination (...)”, Senegal makes it a “compulsory school discipline” (Law 84-59) [6] in the same way as others directly related to cognition (mathematics, life and earth sciences, history, geography, etc.). Its pedagogical feasibility involves the identification of tailor-made programmatic activities according to the ages of the learners. A categorization, even simplistic of the latter and clearly apparent, makes it possible to identify physical learning contents to be applied to the body of those purely sporting. The latter are classified into individual sports and team sports promoting contacts between players and essentially done in the school institution as part of the physical education and sports lesson that R. Lafon [7] defined as “the part of education that uses as a means physical activity with methodical and regular practices (...)”. His teaching promotes “a pedagogy of motor behavior” P. Parlebas [8] essentially practical, made in extramural and based on “learning by doing” J. Dewey [9] with, in Senegal, school programs in EPS and didactic approaches validated and recommended in the form of directives by the administrative and technical hierarchy. They are therefore binding on all teachers of this discipline.

Nevertheless, the stability of these guidelines has been very strongly tested with Covid-19, declared a pandemic by the WHO [10] with strong recommendations restricting mobility and social distancing measures, but also strengthening preventive hygiene including the suppression of physical contact, kisses, handshakes, gatherings, large demonstrations, etc. Therefore, “relationships with the body in the era of the Covid-19 pandemic raise many questions both individually and collectively” (F. Martin-Juchat [11]. The lockdown is thus almost decreed in all countries of the world. The closure of schools and the exogenous shocks generated will severely affect the economies of the various States. “The outlook is all the more alarming as the crisis risks leaving lasting scars and giving rise to major global difficulties. Among the priorities, the first one is to address the global health and economic emergency.

In addition beyond that, the international community must unite to find solutions that will allow us to re-establish as strong a recovery as possible and fight against a worsening of poverty and unemployment C. Pazarbasioglu [12]. Thus, faced with this difficult situation punctuated by isolated popular demonstrations of hostility to the confinement, Senegal advocates the easing of the state of emergency and the resumption of school activities, particularly to avoid a blank year. “Exam classes are prioritized with a resumption scheduled for June 2nd, 2020” M.N.E. 2020 [13] and high health risks, then postponed to the 25th of the same month. The accompaniment of the candidates, after the cry of heart of the National Association of Teachers of Physical Education and Sports (ANEEPS), is accepted. The reopening of classes for “the 2020-2021 school year took place on November 12th, 2020” Decree No. 2020-2297 [14]. The teaching of all school disciplines and therefore physical education and sports classes will have to be done as Senegal was preparing to face a second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic. This is why, in the suburbs of Dakar, notably covered by the Pikine-Guédiawaye Academy Inspectorate, characterized by its overcrowding and very overcrowded school enrolments of around 80 students on average per class, the question of the feasibility of PE with adolescent students more capricious psychologically than conscientious health, raised controversies making logical the following research question: Has physical and sports education, as a school discipline made in extramural and generally characterized by bodily activities and contacts on demarcated grounds, been the subject of didactic consensus technically and community-validated by stakeholders during the period of the Covid-19 pandemic marked by the imposition of restrictions including social distancing? In other words, what are the divergences favored by physical education and sports during Covid-19 pandemic? It involves the apprehension of contradictory positions strongly smeared with fear and mistrust and inducing lessons of PES in several forms in a framework where harmonized practices are dictated by the hierarchy. Clearly, this study aims to highlight the controversies caused by the resumption of PE courses emanating from both intra-school actors (students, teachers, administrations, Inspectors, DMSG) and extracurricular (APE and Management Committee). The reliability of the results depends largely on the methodology that is used.

2. Methodology

This study, carried out in the 40 colleges of the Education and Training Inspectorates of Pikine (06), Guédiawaye (11), Thiaroye (11) and Keur Massar (12) dependent on the Pikine-Guédiawaye Academy Inspectorate, is based on mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) with documentary research, questionnaire survey, semi-directive interviews and direct observation as data collection techniques. Conscious of the delicacy of the constitution of the sample R. Ghiglione and B. Matalon [15], interviewed by questionnaire students from the 6th to the 3rd grade and chosen according to the technique of quotas in the various institutions of intermediate education of the of Pikine Guédiawaye I.A. The total per class and for the 40 colleges are made and 1/500TH of each enrolment is taken and distributed in proportion to the number of students in each Middle school and at each level. The following table highlights student quotas taken by level to make up the sample (Table 1).

In the last instance, the one hundred fifteen (115) middle school students who were interviewed were chosen in twenty-seven (27) Colleges and in all levels from grade 6 to the grade 3 except for the college of Thiaroye sur Mer which is a new creation with only grade 6 classes. The three IEF are fairly represented.

In addition, the use of the data collected from the observation of PES lessons in these different institutions of middle education, semi-directive interviews with 16 teachers of the discipline, two inspectors of PES specialty, seven principals, five presidents of parents’ associations, five presidents of Management Committees, two trade unionists and a member of the DEMSG, made it possible to carry out analyses and confrontations that contributed to the stabilization of the results presented in the following pages.

3. Results

The paradoxes and disagreements before the directives of the authorities for the practice of PES during the pandemic of Covid-19 in the colleges of the Pikine-Guédiawaye Academy Inspectorate have made it possible to index the situation of the real stop of the PAS by schoolchildren, the tense exchanges between the ministerial authorities and the PEPS respectively against and for the integration of the discipline into the examination of the BFEM, tacit oppositions to new inputs (masks and hygiene measures), problems of harmonizing practices that are more normative than hedonic generated by the confrontation of different and divergent objectives of the actors on the same ground.

3.1. Covid-19 and Stopping Classes, of the “PES” without the PES

The Corona virus disease, which broke out in China in November 2019, has

Table 1. Declination of the quotas of students of the PIKINE-Guédiawaye IA colleges by level.

Source: Souleymane Diallo Survey, April 2021.

raised many questions about its symptoms and modes of transmission, leading the scientific world to suggest to States the use of detergent products, lockdown and social distancing MI Order No. 007782 [16]. All sectors including formal education in Senegal had to operate at a slow pace or suspend its activities. The teaching of cognitive disciplines and physical education and sports courses are systematically stopped for all cycles of the education system throughout the national territory with the closure of schools and the imposition of confinement to stop the spread of Covid-19. But are these health and social measures motivated by the desire to stop the spread of the disease with the slogan “stay at home” followed by the young middle school students of Pikine Guédiawaye’s I.A.? “This would be tantamount to asking youngster not to play because of the narrowness of spaces and the overcrowding of houses in the suburbs for an indefinite period.” (IS EPS) while “the game is indispensable to man (...)” J. Huizinga [17] a fortiori the child, this adult in the making, who is built by playing because, “game after game, the child becomes ‘‘I C. Arnaud-Gazagnes [18].

Thus, the measures of the administrative and pedagogical authorities had to deal with the nature of young college teenagers experiencing “a crisis of youth originality” M. Debesse [19] inherent in the “me” that asserts itself in them while promoting conflict with the entourage in the first rank of which are the family and the school. In reality, these young people surveyed did not stop playing games and sports. Despite the sanitary and social distancing measures, the problem for them arises in terms of the frequency of the practice of PAS in groups or individually and the place during the four (4) months (March, April, May and June) of total closure of schools. This is evidenced by their responses recorded in the following Table 2.

The transgression of the rules of confinement has resulted in middle school students going out for the practice of sports at the beach and/or rarely in the open spaces of the neighborhoods. This situation is not accidental because more

Table 2. Distribution of students by recurrent or non-recurrent practice of group PSA during confinement.

Source: Souleymane Diallo surveys, November and December 2020.

than half of the young people have chosen the mention “several times” and are unable to count the number of their fun outings. They represent 61% of the young people surveyed, i.e. in absolute terms 70 out of the 115 interviewed. Some of them specify “it’s because we hide to go out by hiding jerseys, balls and shoes and sometimes even by pretexting that we will borrow notebooks to copy failed lessons that we do not play football every day at the beach. Every week, we go there once or twice.”

In addition to football, the pass to ten with a handball characterized by passes and markings are the second occupation of these young boys and girls. These two activities (football and goes to 10) are sports that 52/70 middle school students are engaged in especially at the beach. Their practices one to 2 times a week necessarily involve contacts. If necessary, not making the number because they live in distant localities, they go there with their neighborhood comrades and most often associate with other young people found on the spot and coming from various backgrounds, thus increasing the risk of spreading the disease. The busiest beaches are Yarakh, Thiaroye and Mbao. In the evening, between 3 pm and 5 pm, the show described on the roads that lead to the beaches is almost reminiscent of the great school holidays coinciding with the wintering, the heat and the idleness of young schoolchildren. During this period of confinement, middle school students thought they were on vacation and never seriously integrated the possibility of returning to school before next school year. It should be noted, however, that the timid outings at the start (March) for these places of sport intensified between April and May without the use of masks and detergent products. “Seawater is enough for some of them.” The carelessness of the context of the health crisis was therefore evident among them teenagers and very “philosophers”.

Also, 18 of the 70 went to the beach “several times” for individual physical activities like jogging, swimming and other body-keeping exercises because they were tired of staying in narrow houses doing nothing for several weeks. Did the awareness of the disease dictate isolation in these practices deemed by themselves indispensable and enlivening? The acceptance of the existence of the Covid-19 disease as well as the knowledge of the prohibitions and suggestions including confinement, were real, but less strong than the need and desire to play and “stir the body” according to their own expression. And it is because they integrate these health injunctions that they cut the pear in half: “we do sports because our body asks for it, but we isolate ourselves to be alone”. The mention “few times”, with a score of 21 individuals out of the 115 in total represents 18% of the sample. Among them, the 7 were engaged in team sports while the 14 went out for games and individual sports described above and almost under the same conditions and for the same reasons. This is the case for the 14 (12%) and 10 (9%) middle school students who respectively went out “almost every day” and “rarely” from home for sports practice at the beach especially.

From another angle, the apprehension of the risks of exposure of middle school students and their families through these ludo-sports outings of young people is possible vertically from the comparison of the numbers in the mentions “individually” or “collectively”. Indeed, the individual sports practices of these beach respondents and social distancing integrators concerned only 43 individuals out of the 115 in the sample. In relative terms, they represent 37% of the total workforce while the most unconscious found in the mention “collectively” are much more numerous (72/115), a representativeness of 63%.

In short, no student stayed at home during the entire time of confinement without doing physical exercises and/or contact sports in groups especially while the so-called cognitive school disciplines (French, Mathematics, SVT, English, etc.) have hardly concerned middle school students during this period. Clearly, PE has been transferred from school to the beach and has gone from formal to non-formal difficult to control with all the health risks inherent in the spread of the Coronavirus disease and social because, in the majority of cases, parental directives are violated causing remonstrance and sanctions that adolescence has defied.

3.2. PES in Times of Covid-19 and the Blunders in Front of the Goal: The Examination of the BFEM1

The first mess is due to the desire to have schoolchildren resume classes in early June and, “for a better appropriation of the measures enacted, all schools must start the day of June 2, 2020, after the essential measures of admission, with a life lesson on the barrier measures to fight against the coronavirus” MNE Circular No. 0001474 [20]. But the positive tests of teachers in Ziguinchor have called into question this date and finally the 25th of the same month will be retained while the reason for closing schools has become much more pronounced. This decision to resume has provoked strong reactions of protests from the actors of the school including the unions, which through their leaders, have highlighted and denounced the exposure of teachers to the disease by the government in these terms: “The government is in a paradoxical trial and error because with less than 10 confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection, it is closing schools. At a time when the disease is spreading at a geometric pace with more than 6, 200 contact and community cases uncontrolled including 94 deaths as of June 25 and no vaccine found for the moment, the government decides to reopen schools for exam classes. Isn’t it a clear desire to expose teachers?”. In spite of themselves, the teachers complied and by conveyor system organized by the authorities, returned to their posts with schedules designed for students applying for school exams including those in third grades.

In the AI colleges of Pikine-Guédiawaye, despite the availability of term flash, bottles of hydro alcoholic gel, measures taken for social distancing in the classroom, teachers had to contain their skepticism and fear to associate themselves with series of meetings aimed at reassuring and convincing the parents of students representing the EPAs and the management committees who still doubted the possibility of resumption “We are afraid for our children who can be exposed and if necessary, expose ourselves too.” This is why the effective resumption of all students was done gradually because several parents of students waited between 7 and 15 days punctuated by visits to schools and interviews with the principals to convince themselves of the effectiveness of the application of barrier measures to release their children who are candidates to the BFEM exam. In reality, the fear of being infected was the most shared thing by administrations, teachers, and parents and to a lesser extent students. The disagreements observed at the beginning and having caused a gradual recovery were almost stabilized around the second half of July despite the persistence of the deleterious climate thus explaining the first blunder.

In addition, only cognitive disciplines are considered in this resumption of classes. Several PE teachers of the IA of Pikine-Guédiawaye were at the same time raised against the suspension of their disciplines “their reason for existing as a teacher” (PEPS). They were skeptical about the feasibility of physical education and sports in the respect of social distancing with overcrowded numbers averaging around 80 students per class and were inhabited by the psychosis of the disease. Faced with this situation, which initially created unease between them, they finally decided to fight together for the reintroduction of PES in the teaching and examination of the BFEM. Their approach is marked by steps, the first of which is to convince Middle School’s administrations about the feasibility of their discipline, which is essentially practical. But the majority of headteachers and their colleagues in other subjects, admittedly divided on the issue and cogitating much more on the revamped curricula and schedules, seemed to politely despise their requests. In these terms, they returned the answers that were given to them “we will see for the PES, but for the moment we have received instructions, the dates of the exams are known and the programs of the key subjects are far from being completed. Your battle is at the top, at the ministry.” The most categorical principals highlight the overcrowding and very small spaces for holding PE lessons for the preparation of the physical tests of the BFEM. “It is almost impossible to comply with the barrier measures in PES; then is it possible to run with a masked nose and mouth? You know for a fact that practicing a sport with the mask is complicated and without the mask, it is risky. Let us be more reasonable. We don’t even dare to say that to the parents of students. If you have the courage go ahead” (PEPS) these exchanges are sometimes alternated with telephone calls to the representatives of the parents of pupils who referred them to the decisions of the Minister.

Faced with this lack of support at the grassroots level, they say: “We hoped to get the support of our colleagues as well as that of the parents of students, but here, we realize that we must carry alone our fight which is that of survival and respect for our subject. We will not let that happen. We will seize the IS and the national association.” In reality, “the BFEM exam is organized by a decree where physical tests are mandatory. How can circulars be more decisive than a decree? We can even cogitate on the illegality of these circulars that go against the decree? Even if there is a lack of consideration towards EPS, but they take the time to put the forms” (IS). Indeed, “the tests are divided into two groups. The first group of tests is composed of common and compulsory written and oral tests, written tests specific to certain sections, a compulsory physical education and sports test, etc. Decree 2004-912 [21]. Thus, the illegality observed by PE teachers and suspensive of their discipline has fostered agitations against a background of mistrust, fear and doubt dividing the PEPS into two groups observed in some of their exchange meetings both at the level of the IEF and at the broader instance of the AI. But the protesters of the ministerial decision ended up winning, reducing the other side to helpless followers. Seized on the issue, the National Association of Teachers of Physical Education and Sports (ANEEP) launches a cry of heart “Physical and sports education is excluded unilaterally by the authorities who have not consulted any specialist in the discipline and therefore have decided to exclude it from all exams including the BFEM. We will never accept that our discipline is sacrificed at the altar of the coronavirus. We will make ourselves heard.”

Moreover, at the organizational level, the mess was evident between the MEN authorities and the PE teachers. The demands for the reintroduction of the EPS, after an initial decision to suspend the discipline, have almost created a climate of unease in the Ministry. The question of exclusion now arises in terms of feasibility. “It’s easy to claim. But in this context, it can be extremely difficult. In short, feasible or not feasible, we wait for reassuring arguments before making proposals to the Minister” (DEMSG). Thus, in the argument provided by the national supervisor of the physical tests, made after analysis of the proposals emanating from the base, it is mentioned “the various certificate examinations use so-called individual physical activities which are: gymnastics, races, jumps. From this point of view, all the measures recommended by the health authorities are more respectable than ever. For the respect of physical distancing: the tests take place in a free and airy space. Each candidate performs his exercise alone and without contact (...). Students must go through small groups of twenty-five (25) candidates, supervised and managed each by an evaluator (...). A device for the use of hydro-alcoholic gel and systematic hand washing, before and after the passage will be put in place. Candidates execute their sequence one by one, in compliance with distancing; As usual, the candidates’ passages and rotations in the gymnastics workshop take place under the supervision of the examiner responsible for managing and accompanying the candidates in compliance with the barrier measures: Each candidate has his dedicated and materialized space P. Ndour [22].

The EPS reintroduces for examinations of which the BFEM will provoke new reactions. Indeed, based on assumptions, the PEPS argued that there was a cessation of physical and sports activities by the students for months. Therefore, doing the examinations without preparation to start the body can lead to injuries. The resumption of classes must be imminent. This is why, to the question “is it possible to let the students go directly to do the physical tests of BFEM? The almost unanimous answer of the teachers is “NO” because “The suspension of teaching-learning associated with confinement, has created a break in the practice of physical activities among learners. This rupture has led to a sedentary lifestyle and created a loss of physical, motor and psychological gains” (PEPS Pk-Guédiawaye). As a result, the following proposals are made: “the resumption of teaching-learning with emphasis on: the conduct of pedagogical sequences for four (04) hours of classes for a general physical condition from 02 to 15 June 2020, the conduct of pedagogical sequences of six (06) hours of courses focused on the tests chosen by the candidates for the various exams from 16 June to 10 July 2020” (ANEEP).

In short, the decision to suspend the EPS of the exams has led to favorable opinions in the PIkine-Guédiawaye IA related to the fear of creating hotbeds of contamination of the disease and unfavorable creating the controversy between PEPS and strong reactions of the actors justified by the need to defend their discipline by causing the State to reconsider its decision. This first step is followed by legal arguments calling into question the ministerial circulars deemed out of step with the decree that organizes the BFEM. The mess at the top caused by the grassroots redirected the debate towards feasibility that was argued by the teachers. The reinstatement of the EPS to the exam has provoked technical reactions forcing specialists to propose the resumption of classes for the start-up of the bodies of college students considered sedentary during the confinement. Thus, the EPS, from March to July, has been the subject of disagreements, trial and error, denunciations and permanent questioning of the decisions that have led to its ongoing reinstatement and under review. In short, the skeptical authorities agreed, teachers were conditionally engaged, parents were reluctant and students were under the influence.

3.3. EPS in Times of Covid-19: New Didactic Inputs and Tacit Oppositions between Middle School Students and PEPS

Compliance with barrier measures is one of the major conditions validated for the reinstatement of the current EPS and the examination of the BFEM. With the recommendations of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, no detail is overlooked from the entrance door of schools to the exit after classes through the provisions required in class. EPS is not mentioned but is obliged to draw inspiration from it for its feasibility. This is how the teachers had to systematically enforce “the physical distancing of 1 m to 1.5 m between the students, airy spaces for practice, equipment cleaned every day with systematic passage of a cloth soaked in 0.5% chlorine solution on any place likely to be touched by the student’s hand (carpet, balloon, weight, rope, poles, etc.) The PCI “three buckets” method will be advocated here. As a result, the physical education and sports lesson is embellished with new materials. Wearing a mask and washing hands with hydro alcoholic gel become mandatory prerequisites required during EPS in particular. Social distancing measures before, during and after the course complement the health prevention system that causes disagreements between teachers and students manifested by the latter by the veiled refusal to comply.

Added to this is the fairly high rate of absenteeism during PSE. “We struggle to have all our students unlike the pre-Covid-19 classes and absentees always manage to bring us medical papers. On average, 4 students who regularly did these classes do not come or become very irregular. It’s a lot with this reorganization where we are recommended to do the course only with 25 students” (PEPS). The real reasons for these behaviors given by middle school students are different from those of the doctors. They are recorded in the following Table 3.

The awareness and unconsciousness of the context for the practice of physical education and sports divide middle school students into two large groups. Indeed, the conscientious, certainly much less numerous, are first animated by “fear because here, it is difficult to enforce the measures of social distancing to my classmates”; attitude clearly justifying the desire to respect the barrier measures and the desolation in the face of compromising behaviors of some of their comrades of promotion. There are indeed 05 students in this situation or in relative value 04% of the young people surveyed. They seem to share the same concern as the other 11 students who welcome the measures taken and for having opted for the mention “The spaces arranged for the EPS are ventilated and the class is divided into groups of 25. It’s better that way because the distances are

Table 3. Students’ impressions of absences and veiled reluctance during PES.

Source: Souleymane Diallo surveys, November and December 2020.

respected. They represent 10% of the workforce. Finally, the answers included in the mention “other” are also those of conformists because their reactions can be summarized in these terms: “I do the course, I respect the protocol, and it reassures me”. They are in total 9/115 or the 08% of middle school students. In total, the PE courses for the preparation of candidates for the physical tests of the BFEM have a low rate of adherence to the barrier measures on the part of the students because only 25 candidates out of the 115 surveyed (22%) have internalized them and strive to respect them as much as possible.

Moreover, the unfavorable reactions, even veiled, of this form of EPS are variously justified. Wearing a mask during this class is not appreciated by students. The majority of them (33/115 or 29%) “Breathe badly with the mask and prefer to find an alibi not to do the EPS”. Faced with the many pretexts of forgetting a mask, teachers respond with substitution. Boxes of masks provided by the authorities make it possible to circumvent this alibi. These students prefer to take the risk of exposure to the disease by not preferring to cover their nose and mouth while doing PSE. “Their carelessness is sometimes manifest because faced with the requirement to wear the mask, they always find a way to circumvent the injunction by not putting it on correctly; it is either the mouth or the nose that is out of the mask. (PEPS) This unconscious attitude is further exacerbated by the 21/115 (or 18%) students almost demotivated because “the individual sports activities done are not to their liking” These young people prefer football and to a lesser extent basketball and handball. The developments and awareness that precede PE courses to protect themselves from the disease are not internalized and therefore, their sporting tastes in PE must take precedence over any other measure from wherever it comes. Also, in this same group of “unconscious of the context”, those (the 17% of respondents or 20/115) who do not understand and qualify “nonsense the fact of washing hands, dirtying and rewashing them, etc.” both with hydro-alcoholic gel, bleach and the use of thermo flash throughout the day in schools where teachers seem to be suspicious of students and where the proximity that has always characterized relations between students themselves and between middle school students, teachers and the administration, are abruptly prohibited. And as if to complete this lot of carefree, 16 students out of the 115 have risen against the PE teachers by choosing the mention “the teacher isolates himself and does not take any risk. I’m offended by it” Indeed, some teachers have their own material. The demonstrations are made almost 5 m away while between the students the distance of 1 to 1.5 m is difficult to respect. Oral communication almost necessary in this discipline is reduced to its simplest expression. “I speak to give the instructions. For the rest, I communicate orally only when I can’t not do it. There is a minimum” (PEPS).

In total, 90 students out of the 115 surveyed, i.e. in relative value 78% of the workforce, show attitudes of carelessness in the context of the pandemic through their various reactions to the barrier measures enacted and whose respect is a major concern of adults. This is why conflicts followed by referrals are very often noted in these PE courses, provoking live reactions from school heads that the EPAs and CGEs try to stabilize for the interest of the candidates. “These young people are in their teens and deviant behavior is an act of bravery for them. They want at all costs to be distinguished even negatively (...). It is up to adults (PEPS, school heads, parents, etc.) to use the right speech and techniques necessary to bring them to their senses” (SI).

In short, the carelessness of middle school students in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic forcing school authorities in particular to impose the use of masks, detergent products, hydro alcoholic gel, etc. as didactic inputs, variously and negatively appreciated by students in physical education and sports classes, has fostered depreciable attitudes and behaviors and sources of tacit and/or manifest contradictions between teachers and authorities. The actions of BEFEM candidates have sometimes required the solicitation and intervention of parents while the managers of the system index adolescence and advocate the use of the right discourse capable of positively impacting the attitudes of young people.

3.4. Multi-Speed, “Tasteless” PES with a Goal for Each Actor

Physical education between health injunctions and pedagogical guidelines is reinforced in the AI colleges of Pikine-Guédiawaye to multiple adaptation obligations with several rules and restrictions pushing to question the real objectives of the actors and the hedonic nature of the activity.

3.4.1. Multi-Speed Physical and Sports Education

The application of the barrier measures set out in the PON as an obligation for all institutions and disciplines does not seem to take into account the academic specificities in physical education and sports in particular. This discipline requires space and social distancing guidelines limit the number of students per class to 25. From then on, the PEPS faced the problems of space and enrolment in the colleges of Pikine-Guédiawaye. It raises the question of whether the land available in colleges can contain the number of 25 retained by the authorities in compliance with social distancing between students. Some PEPS, although in the minority (5/16), sometimes report problems on the ground within the establishments even with reduced staff and the practice of strictly individual disciplines where others have had enough or more. This situation favors internal rearrangements based on the personal initiatives of teachers.

The conformists strictly respect the injunctions of the health authorities validated by the educational hierarchy because they have fields spacious enough for in the colleges to contain the number of 25 students doing the physical and sports activities recommended while keeping the distance. They are more numerous because “the number is small and they are the only ones to occupy the playground. With the individual disciplines recommended after the revision of the curricula of the 3rd grade classes, we are comfortable” (PEPS). With them, only the narrowness of the constrained play area could favor readjustments and this is not the case. The wide open spaces do not lead them to increase the number of people to take per session and be in the spirit of social distancing. On the other hand, others voluntarily take 30 to 35 students per session and justify their option as follows: “With the land I use, the gaps between the students are respected and I therefore see no problem with this increase in enrolment” (PEPS).

In addition, with the PE fields resembling corridors and serving as playgrounds, three teachers were forced to limit the number of students to each session between 10 and 15. “These are courses to save what can be saved and in these conditions, I prefer health guidelines; no question of taking the smallest risk. You can see that this space cannot hold 25 middle school students standing between 1m and 1.5m away. Knowing their readiness to break the rules, I prefer to take all the necessary measures not to promote a focus of spread of the disease. My responsibility is fully engaged. I assume it” (PEPS). This position attests to the willingness to adapt the practice strongly encouraged by the inspectors because, informed of this situation, they emphasize the objective “to do the EPS with the least possible risk. The health protocol is made for all establishments in Senegal and, by validating it, we knew that there are differences between the establishments in terms of free area for EPS. Initiatives in line with the spirit of the recommendations are commendable” (SI). The last group consists of those who are most criticized by the hierarchy (Principals and IS). They strictly adhere to the protocol and take out 25 students in each PE class even though they have very small play areas. Their main argument is “no one will say that I did not respect the number and all recommended products are used” (PEP). With them, the contextualized social distancing in the particular context of the practice college comes after the conformism to the national rules. The two teachers who are in this situation are constantly on the defensive when asked about the distances between the students.

In short, the particular circumstances inherent in the staff and spaces available for PES in compliance with social distancing measures have led to rehabilitations in the letter and in the spirit of the measures required, thus vindicating J. Defrance [23] who notes that: “sport is defined in practice by those who institute it and it is constantly redefined as it is built, a progressive construction driven by the circumstantial needs of adaptation.”

3.4.2. EPS More Normative than Hedonic, an Unfavorable Judgment of Pupils

The consensus highlighting the administrative, health and pedagogical guidelines has led to the increase and accentuation of the rules that lead to the practice of sports in physical education and sports. The steps to be respected have become numerous and the measures restrictive to the point that students wonder about the meaning of this “EPS Covid-19” and characterizes it in these terms (Table 4).

Two major favorable and unfavorable assessments of PES during Covid-19 emerge from this table. The first group is made up of middle school students who positively appreciate the practice of this discipline in times of the Covid-19

Table 4. Qualifications of “EPS Covid-19” by middle school students.

Source: Souleymane DIALLO surveys, November and December 2020.

pandemic. For them, realism seems to take precedence over other considerations because after the integration of EPS in the BFEM tests, it is necessary to prepare to collect as many points as possible. This is why, in this group, 16 students or 14% of the respondents think that “It is an EPS to do on the exam, so we must prepare”. The BFEM is the primary motivation for this group that has taken over PE courses. Also, “these courses are considered enlivening” by 7 middle school students (6% of learners) thus highlighting the playful aspect in the justification of this position beaten in breach by the teachers who, implicitly, highlight more the constraining circumstances than the joy of the students to play and play sports: “It is simply a question of preparing them to undergo the physical tests of the BFEM exam. We are much more interested in bodies than anything else.”

In addition, 3 learners welcome the resumption of these extramural courses and argue that “this is an important PSE after months of confinement”. With them, the assessment is justified by the break with the sedentary lifestyle that the slogan “stay at home” has favored. In total, the trend favorable to this “PES Covid-19”—ironic name of the actors—variously justified is credited with only 23% (26/115) of these young respondents.

In addition, physical education and sports in times of Covid-19 is disgusting for the majority of students. Indeed, “it is an EPS not at all interesting because of the many rules to respect before, during and after” the session. This conviction is shared by 51 of the 115 students surveyed, i.e. 44% of the workforce in relative terms. In fact, in addition to the institutional and didactic guidelines to which the pupils have become accustomed, there are those of a purely health nature. The latter seems to distort games in practice by removing everything that promotes contact and the euphoria that accompanies good successful performances. These health rules, considered binding, are observed from the handling to the return to calm. This first stage of the lesson was most often marked by a grouping in a sitting position side by side where they exchanged and teased each other as if to mark their exit from the closed frame of the class until the intervention of the teacher standing very close to them to give the necessary instructions. The return to calm allowed students to congratulate each other by greeting, tapping and even kissing. These moments of proximity are replaced by distances and silence. As if to confirm this position of their classmates, 22 and 14 middle school students respectively maintain that “It is an EPS for the administration and not for the students” and “It is a PE with too many constraints”. In reality, the concerns of the PEPS were much more oriented towards the defense of their discipline considered marginalized by the authorities, who were more concerned with saving the school year. The PSA was not considered necessary to achieve the objective. In this debate, the student has become a concern only for the feasibility of PE inducing a set of standards to be applied to it. His playful and psychological concerns are relegated to the background and promote disinterest and demotivation. This situation led to a physical and sports education more normative than hedonic explaining the choices of these three mentions raised by 87 students out of the 115 surveyed or 75% of the total enrolment.

To sum up, physical and sports education, as a community case, is justified by different objectives of the actors (students, PEPS, MEN), difficulties in harmonizing practical recommendations in the AI of Pikine-Guédiawaye because of the different realities experienced in terms of space and enrolment in colleges and which promote differentiated practices in compliance or not with social distancing health measures. Because of the latter “social distancing” source of constraints detrimental to the desired hedonism of young people and applied before and after the session thus depriving the students of warm moments of proximity and manifestations of joy and verbal criticism.

4. Discussion of Results

This study highlights the question of circumstantial change, a source of disagreements variously manifested by the actors according to the statutes, of “motor conflicts of evolution” G. Rocher [24] and of differentiated readaptations of practices in physical education and sports particularly for which C. Sarralie and G. Vergnaud [25] propose approaches based on “didactics”. Specifically, in the context of inclusion in physical education and sports, forms of adaptation are stabilized and institutionalized according to the types of disabilities for children with “special physical sports needs” after several researches including those of Y. Eberhard [26] on EPS for the mentally handicapped, J-P. Garel [27] on children with motor impairments, by A. Varray et al. [28] on the teaching of APAs, etc. They have almost never taken into account the various factors that can lead to circumstantial didactic adaptations of physical education and sports in particular. Indeed, the context of the Covid-19 pandemic has proven that pedagogical approaches must constantly readjust, forced in this by unfavorable environments. Thus, the present study focuses on the need to update PE teaching strategies by conforming them to health injunctions impacting on “community habits that are not culturally internalized and difficult to accept, social distancing” S. L. B. Faye [29]. Also, the quarrels inherent in the operation of any sudden change in habits (as is the case during this period of pandemic) have highlighted the different and sometimes divergent interests of the actors (PEPS, MEN, Students, Parents). This is where the use of the term “community case” finds its relevance.

Then, the period of the study is marked by a collective psychosis strongly smeared with fear caused by the lack of knowledge of the disease, its rapid spread, the absence of vaccine, confinement, etc. “Parents, for the most part, stayed in the houses with provisions bought for one to two months and were very strict in monitoring their offspring” (Parents). The study lacked, for the sake of verification, analyses leading to the confrontation of the responses of middle school students who say they mainly engage in physical and sports activities at the beach during this period, with the assertions of parents. Let us recall the pupils of the colleges, from the point of view of age, are in the period of adolescence qualified by F. Dolto [30] of “very vulnerable and quick to rebel”; This reinforces the need for reflection on the relationship between parents and middle school students that can consolidate or weaken certain data collected. If necessary and as if to reinforce this criticism, B. Jourdant [31] stated: “that it is necessary to take into account the divergences, to multiply ever more the elements of a situation in order to create the conditions for a positive controversy on the validity of the results”.

Finally, on the methodological level, Montesquieu, quoted by M. Grawitz [32] suggested in one of his notebooks: “When you make a statue, you should not always be seated in one place. It must be seen from all sides, from afar, up close, up down, in all directions.” The total number of middle school students listed is 57,594. Only 115 were selected to constitute the sample (1/500th). This number remains low because it constitutes only 1/500th of the number of students of the CEM of the IA of Pikine-Guédiawaye. A significant increase in the number of questionnaire respondents could relatively or significantly vary the results. This question of completeness in the humanities had led R. Zoukerman [33] to point out “that it is difficult to convince in science even if the researcher arrives at a truth” whose validation raises questions beforehand that H-I. Marrou [34] emphasizes: “skepticism about the truths found may be due to the approaches and constraints related to the research object.”

5. Conclusion

Despite the rapid spread of Covid-19 that has led to the imposition of restrictive measures including the confinement conveyed by the slogan “stay at home” and consequently the closure of all schools in Senegal, the middle school students of the Pikine-Guédiawaye Academy Inspectorate have found the means to engage in physical and sports activities in the beaches. This transgression of injunctions often justified by their age (adolescence), exposed them to parental remonstrance and illness and also exposed their families and entourage to Covid-19. Where appropriate, they shall be treated as Community cases. The discipline has also been so in the sense that it has fostered divergences variously manifested by the actors. The State’s desire to resume courses for the organization of examinations by excluding EPS from the tests of the certificate of completion of average studies has encouraged reactions of contestation followed by a mess in the bodies of decisions and proposals of practical modalities for taking into account the discipline in progress and the examination that led to its reinstatement. This situation highlighted the disagreements between the actors characterized by the skepticism and trial and error of the authorities, the conditional and partial commitment of the PEPS, the reluctance and influence of parents on their children. Added to this is the depreciation of new didactic inputs such as wearing a mask during physical exertion, hand washing, the almost permanent use of hydro alcoholic gel, physical distancing before, during and at the end of the session, the reduction of verbal communication to its strict minimum, etc. by middle school students who judge them negatively in relation to their hedonic motivations in the physical education and sports class. Unwanted attitudes and behaviors of some pupils explained by the adolescence of learners have led to some tacit and sometimes manifest contradictions between teachers as well as fearful parents and authorities (Principals and inspectors) much more concerned with the implementation of the guidelines for the organization of examinations. Also, physical education and sports classes in compliance with physical distancing are strongly tested by the narrowness of the spaces available for this course in the EMFs of the IA of Pikine-Guédiawaye or outside of them. Therefore, courses in this discipline are presented in several forms. Teachers adapting the protocol set out in the Ministry of Health’s PON (Standard Operating Procedure) document strive to reduce or increase the recommended enrolment of 25 students depending on the practice areas. The most conformist remain in the letter of the text. This multi-speed EPS is another manifestation of the difficulties of harmonizing the EPS-Covid-19 favored by the space/enrolment dialectic while respecting the distance of 1.5 meters between students. The latter (physical distancing) which harms hedonism is decried by middle school students deprived of warm moments of challenges and competitions, proximity and manifestations of joy, verbal criticism and replies.


1BFEM is an acronym that refers to the Certificate of Completion of Middle School Studies obtained after 4 years of study at the college and the success of the national exam of the same name.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.


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