Story by Michael Mayemura
Illustration by Ethan Lyons
SPHS’ coronavirus protocols, which came in the wake of a resurgence of L.A. County cases fueled by the delta variant, have forced student organizations on campus to adapt and innovate their activities to prioritize safety.
In preparation for reopening, school administration worked to develop a comprehensive safety plan to protect students and staff from the coronavirus. These policies include wearing a mask indoors at all times, disinfecting high-traffic classroom areas, and routine weekly tests for student-athletes.
Despite already existing policies, five coronavirus cases have been reported in the district since school began on Thursday, Aug. 16. At SPHS, both the pep and football teams have been affected by exposures. There have also been two reported cases at Marengo Elementary School. After a member of pep contracted coronavirus this summer, the team faced tighter enforcement of health and safety guidelines.
“After a [pep] team member contracted coronavirus this summer we made sure to be super cautious at summer practices,” junior Kaile Fernandes said. “Unfortunately, we don’t get tested weekly as we are not considered a sport, but we stay safe by keeping our masks on at all times unless we’re outside.”
Exposures within school athletics have also pushed Athletic Director Anthony Chan to introduce stricter safety protocols for student-athletes.
“SPHS schedules weekly tests for student-athletes around their practice schedules,” Chan said. “There has been a shortage of officials which, along with rescheduling games due to cases of coronavirus, has made scheduling a little harder this year. SPHS student-athletes, coaches, and families have been understanding and flexible, so we continue to find ways to give them the opportunity to compete.”
Beyond athletics, coronavirus protocols alter other aspects of student life on campus as well. In the second week of school, ASB live-streamed the annual SAC assembly to students in their fourth period classes rather than all together in the auditorium. While they are hopeful that conditions will improve, ASB anticipates that future events will be affected as well.
“This year the juniors are having trouble planning homecoming because it has to be outside,” junior class president Samantha Lopez said. “Usually, it is in the gym, but we can’t do that if we have food so figuring that out will be interesting. Although, I’m excited because it means we will plan a unique homecoming.”
Student athletes are continuing routine testing and ASB is preparing to hold the Color Day assembly outdoors amidst L.A. County’s indoor restrictions. Currently, SPHS administration does not plan to amend the school’s coronavirus policies.