COVID-19 PUSHES SPORTS AND CLUBS IN A NEW DIRECTION

After an announcement canceled all Palm Beach County schools and extracurriculars for the remaining school year, communications sophomore Christian Chantayan “felt sorrow rush over him.” He never thought that the spread of the coronavirus would suspend the track season he had been training so diligently for. 

Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy made the announcement on March 13 in response to the rising spread of COVID-19 in South Florida. As of April 10, there are 1,260 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Palm Beach County, and Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered a state-wide lockdown on April 2 to stop the spread of the pandemic.

“Our whole team had high aspirations going into the end of the track season, so it’s disappointing that the season got cut short,” Chantayan said. 

While Chantayan was training for the now-postponed season before the stay at home directive, track coach Sarah Garcia brought all of her coaching to a halt. The season came “to a complete standstill,” says Garcia, and there haven’t been any practices since school had been shut down starting on March 13. 

The team missed two track meets, including the county qualifier, which was required for the Palm Beach county championship on April 8, which has since been canceled. Regardless, coach Garcia still has hope for the season because of the status of their future meets.

“As of now, I have just heard that everything is postponed,” Ms. Garcia said. “I think the next step will be to reschedule some of the final meets in the summer, if at all.”

While some members of the track team still have next year to continue their sports endeavors, Ms. Garcia expressed her sympathy toward the suspension for senior athletes, who have had their last track season cut short.

“I am extremely disappointed and I feel for my seniors, who were getting better at every single meet,” Ms. Garcia said. 

In addition to the sports season, many clubs are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as A.R.T.S Club and NHS. A.R.T.S Club’s sponsor Sarah Ray has been “taking cues” from the district as to whether she can run A.R.T.S camp this summer. A.R.T.S. camp is a well known part of the club for students, being a completely student-run summer camp for young kids that involves roughly 160 counselors and teachers. The camp would run from June 1 to June 5, but because of the indefinite closure of schools, there is no telling whether or not it will happen. 

“Unfortunately, it is another major event at DSOA that is being put on hold until further notice because of this global pandemic,” Ms. Ray said. “The safety and health of our students, members, and community are our main priorities.” 

During A.R.T.S camp, officers of the club are chosen for the next year through an interview process. Because camp may be postponed or canceled, Ms. Ray says she will find an alternative by talking to the club’s presidents.

Along with A.R.T.S Club, NHS is also being altered in accord with the district’s schedule. The various blood drives run by the club have been canceled. Strings junior Jayla Cousins has reflected on the cancellation of the events and feels for the presidents and the people who planned them. 

“[I have] mixed emotions. It’s sad to know that the people who spent hours organizing these events won’t get to enjoy their hard work, but I’m glad the events have been canceled to maintain social distancing regulations,” Cousins said. 

NHS sponsor and science teacher Dr. Kristen Perez Wilson canceled the blood drive on April 8, along with the general meetings that occur once a month. The officer meetings have been happening over Google Meets, just like classes. 

NHS also requires its members to receive 15 community service hours per semester. However, the honor society has decided not to penalize members for not meeting the requirements. Instead, members are forgiven of any missing hour requirements and all seniors will receive their NHS graduation cords. Likewise, all current juniors will start with a clean slate next school year with regard to community service hours. 

“For the community, I think this will have a little bit more of an impact,” Dr. Wilson said. “With over 300 members trying to get 30 hours a school year of community service, several organizations do not have their usual stream of volunteers coming to help.”

For the rising juniors who are supposed to be getting their invitations to NHS, their applications will be sent electronically to students who have met a minimum HPA of 4.12 or are close to it. 

Although these changes and methods stray from the norm, Dr. Wilson thinks it’s for good reason.

“It has been a challenge, but the health and safety of students and staff comes first,” Dr. Wilson said.

At the end of the day, sports and clubs “are at the mercy of the District and the CDC,” according to Ms. Ray, and students and teachers alike must stay up to date with any news updates both pandemic and school related. To keep up to date with COVID-19 news and updates follow The Muse on Instagram @themuseatdsoa or our website: https://www.themuseatdreyfoos.com/