Sarah Himmelsbaugh ’21: As the clock strikes 7:30 each morning, a cohort of in-person students take a seat in their first hours. For some, this may be the only time they leave the house — maybe their family members are high risk, or they do not feel safe venturing into the public for much outside of their education. For others, today is an ordinary school day — they had a big game last night and need to get their work done ASAP so they can attend practice tonight. 

Should Romeo athletes currently in their season be expected to opt for online school in order to keep the regular students safer? Is it fair that athletes who are coming into close contact with teammates and people from other schools on the daily are, in many ways, risking the spread of germs and potentially Coronavirus for students who just want to attend school safely? And a bigger question: should these athletes be required to do all online school until their season is over? To answer this question, we interviewed various Romeo students on their perspective.

Lila Libby ‘21, a tennis player at the high school, believes that the current handling of athletes and school is appropriate. 

“I don’t think they should be forced to do online school, but I think the option should be there for them to choose. Forcing athletes to do all online school to prevent spreading germs in person would mean putting it all on the athletes, which isn’t fair,” Libby said. “Spectators (often students) come to the events too, so if you mandated that athletes be part of all online/cohort C, it would only make sense to do the same for spectators. At that point, it would be too much of a mess. Overall, athletes are doing their best to not spread the virus and be safe at events and school. So, they should be rewarded with a choice of whether to go to school or not.” 

Many athletes, shown by their presence in in-person school, would agree. However, some current Cohort C students do wish things were different. 

For Urouge Razzaq ‘21, her senior year thus far has meant nothing more than logging into Google Meets each morning and trying to stay on task even whilst in the comfort of her own bedroom.

 “I don’t know if it should be forced necessarily, but if athletes were online and I knew that none of the people at school were athletes who are constantly coming into contact with people from other schools, I would definitely feel safer about going back in person,” Razzaq said. 

There remains no doubt that the idea of virus spreading, and the possibility of one case leading to a chain reaction, weighs on some students’ minds. Not only is the student coming into contact with other students at school, but they are also coming in unaware of who their classmates have been in contact with outside of school, and whether or not they have taken proper precautions to avoid picking up any and all germs. 

A multi-sport athlete currently in the midst of fall practices, Matthew Himmelsbaugh ‘23, believes that athletes should still be allowed to attend in-person school if that is what works best for them, so long as they are following strict guidelines on how to be safe

“I don’t think athletes should have to do online school, as long as they follow safety precautions and try to not spread germs as much as possible,” Himmelsbaugh said. 

This school year looks vastly different for all students. With some in the classroom and some dialing in over the computer each day, there is inevitable separation between groups. As a result, there are varying opinions on how education and athletics should be handled this year, and whether or not there should be a correlation between the two topics. All in all, it seems that most students interviewed believe athletes should still have a choice between in person and online school options.

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