COVID Impacting School Activities

COVID Impacting School Activities

Jensin McMickle, Co-Multimedia Manager

A large number of Washington High School students and staff have been jolted into a 10-day quarantine now that the new COVID-19 variant of Omicron has swiftly spread across the school. Not only has COVID affected students involved in sports and other school activities, but it has largely affected students involved in arts programs like Show Choir and Speech Team. Because of the large risk of COVID going around the Art Department, teachers Peter Westphalen, Amy Farley, Carrie Tinkham, and Layne Sheetz have started to enforce safety rules such as wearing masks at all times, no sharing of water bottles, and privacy rules keeping distance and respecting people’s personal space because of the COVID cases rising. 

 

Washington’s show choir team Momentum has recently traveled to Viterbo, Wisconsin for the Viterbo 101 Show Choir Competition on Saturday, January 8. Six middle schools, five prep divisions, and nine open divisions competed.  Masks were mandated for all performers, band, crew, and staff at all times besides for eating, yet cases seemed to arise right after the competition. Show choir performers that got COVID missed a couple of classes and Monday night rehearsals. By the end of that week, 24% of students in the choir had COVID. The show choirs Momentum and Celebration did not participate in the Muscatine show choir competition held on January 15 after Westphalen and Farley made the responsible decision of staying home that weekend. Instead, those choirs would move on to participate at the shows: Anamosa on January 29, MOShow on February 12, and Marion on February 26.

 

The Speech Team became aware of the positive COVID tests around 14 days before their first competition, and had at least one person per performing group was out with COVID for their district large group event. When asked about mask mandates Language Arts teacher, Layne Sheetz referenced district guidelines, “District guidelines with mandates and urged students to keep masks on during rehearsals even though they fell outside of the official “mandate” from the district.” 

Masks are emphasized for the Speech Team while walking around contests and in crowded areas. “When we are only guaranteed one performance with a group per year, COVID can have a heavy impact on a team. I’m proud of the way our students rallied around each other and kept each other safe.  While the ‘outbreak’ didn’t begin with Speech [or Show Choir], I believe we did our part to limit the spread of it within our team because we adhered closely and stringently to guidelines that were in place and continue to do so even after the mandates have been lifted.” said Sheetz. COVID didn’t have as much of a negative impact on the Speech Team as it did the show choirs. 

COVID cases at Washington high school have since dialed down considerably. With Show Choir and Speech Teams safety recommendations. The coaches and directors of show choir and speech are still encouraging students to wear masks to lower the cases of COVID.