Isabel Tarnutzer ‘21: No matter how perfectly one goes about protecting themselves during this time, no matter the lengths they go to, or the precautions they take, it remains nearly impossible to completely avoid the reach of COVID-19. Even if one stays able to keep themselves from contracting the virus, they remain far from safe when considering the massive COVID sphere of influence. This becomes evidently clear when observing the effect of the coronavirus on high school sports. The virus forced schools to enact numerous restrictions, such as limiting the number of spectators, requiring masks at all times, and even initially restricting where teams could practice. But despite following the rules completely, sometimes positive cases within a team arise.
For Romeo Community Schools, the policy for teams in which any positive cases are reported remains consistent. To start they will first examine the situation. Then, administrators talk with the positive athlete and determine when their symptoms started and finally go about making a decision for the rest of the team. Sometimes, no exposure occurs between the infected athlete and their teammates, so the team will likely receive permission to continue playing. Other times, however, the entire team risks catching the virus, so the athletes must stop playing and go on a 14 day self-isolated quarantine.
When the sports teams shut down, the players become deeply affected. Not only do the teams stop right in the middle of their season, but while they sit in their homes unable to practice, most other teams they compete against continue to improve and practice their skills. This becomes especially difficult for teams in which they feel the steady improvement of their skills and wins only to have the season come to a screeching halt.
“It’s upsetting especially because I feel like [our team] was doing really well only to have the season stop so quickly,” volleyball player Emeline Roger ‘21 said.
But beyond the physical downsides of the mandatory quarantine, indications of a large mental toll on students as a result of the isolation become identifiable. Isolation for 14 days remains a difficult and trying task all on its own, but when you add the fact that these athletes remain students first and must also balance schoolwork at the same time, an understandable strain on their mental health occurs.
“Overall I think the quarantine has a negative effect on me. I miss practices, games, lifting, school, and seeing my friends. I tend to do better when I have a lot of things to do and with quarantine, there isn’t much I can do,” Roger said.
Despite the strain on the athletes, not much more can be done by administrators to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Even if teams follow each procedure and students make smart decisions, there still remains a possibility of cases emerging. Furthermore, athletes understand that they put themselves at greater risk of catching the virus in choosing to participate in the sport. While unfortunate and difficult on students, the mandatory quarantine remains necessary in order to protect the greater community and help to reduce the likelihood of jeopardizing the rest of the sports season.