COVID-19: High School Sports’ Biggest Rival
As students were returning to school from their Winter Break spent with friends and family, January was characterized by a massive COVID-19 outbreak that stormed Los Angeles County and brought new positive cases of the Omicron variant to Gahr High School. Students were exposed to the virus left and right, and many were pulled out of class - oftentimes in the middle of a lecture - to quarantine at home under S.T.I.S., or short-term independent study, for about a week (or even longer for those who were not vaccinated). This not only caused numerous students to fall behind in their studies but also impacted the numerous athletes who were unable to attend practices with their teams.
Gahr’s Track and Field long-distance team, headed by Coach Leighliter, was just one of the sports affected by the recent COVID-19 surges. Several runners who were exposed to COVID-19 and received the S.T.I.S. email had to follow a workout schedule provided by Coach Leighliter at home, by themselves. Having been one of those students exposed to COVID-19, I found myself running 400m intervals around my neighborhood complex while using my phone as a stopwatch and completing longer runs on the San Gabriel River Trail, recording my distance with the Strava app. Although this was similar to my experience as a freshman athlete during 2020’s online learning, after having experienced running in a team setting, I realized the advantages of having a team- especially for running, which is often (mistakenly) associated with being solely an individual sport.
However, Track and Field are just one of the several other sports impacted by COVID-19. For example, Gahr’s baseball and basketball teams have also been facing challenges with games and tournaments getting canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
Track and Field were just one of the several sports at Gahr impacted by COVID-19. For example, Gahr’s baseball team has also had players sent home due to contact tracing of COVID-19, while basketball has been facing challenges with games getting canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
Although it has been over two years since COVID-19 was first introduced to the world, the effects of the pandemic are still very much a reality today. As we are trying to return to a more normal life, we must continue to remain vigilant during these challenging times - especially for athletes, as even one positive case can threaten a team’s ability to compete against other
schools. Helping limit the spread of the virus can be done by athletes and non-athletes alike by continuing to follow state-regulated safety protocols, which include wearing masks, social distancing, and getting vaccinated if possible. While some sports require athletes to get tested every week, free COVID-19 testing is also offered at Gahr every Tuesday and Thursday from 3:00-5:00 pm next to the old tennis courts. With such safety precautions, hopefully, the pandemic, along with the challenges that COVID-19 has brought into high school sports and the rest of the world, will come to an end sooner than later.