MHS Students Face Tough Choice Between Sports & School

This year of sports has been one like we have never seen before. With many delays, we finally had our fall season in March. 

Many athletes this season have been adapting well to the new changes that have been instituted such as masks, fewer fans, and social distancing protocol, the one change no one is adapting well too; contact tracing. 

Contact tracing has been occurring since the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. As constituted by New York state, any student that has been in close contact with the student who tested positive must be contact traced. Close contact is defined as anyone within 6 feet of someone for 10 minutes even if wearing a mask and being behind a desk shield. For MHS, this includes students who sit in front, behind, and on either side of that student.

Recently, a press conference was held by the Massapequa Board of Education. The purpose of this conference was to “get local control back to the local school district regarding how we operate to Covid-19 regulations,” said the speaker of this conference, Jeanine Caramore. Massapequa felt that it was needed to explain to members of the community how confined the Nassau County Department of Health concerning the state.

  In the Massapequa school district, from November 3 to March 5, 1473 students have been quarantined. Out is this number, only two contracted Covid-19 which could not be directly traced back to the school. In MHS and Ames alone, 408 students were quarantined with no students testing positive for Covid-19.  

Recently, as sports have finally begun, many athletes have chosen to go online for the season to avoid the risk of getting contact traced. “Contact tracing in school is something that is completely out of my hands and I fear missing days of my season, so I opted online,” said senior volleyball player, John Reece. 

Reece was not the only athlete opting to go online. Out of a 38 person poll conducted by The Chief on the athletes of MHS, almost 37% of those students opted to go online for the season. “For my senior year, I didn’t want to potentially be exposed and miss a few weeks of my season, or vice versa where I potentially become a carrier of the virus through playing a sport and then spread it to someone in school,” said senior field hockey player, Kayla Hasset. With the season being so short as is, many athletes were afraid to miss out on any days. 

Students who decided not to go online said that they could not handle online school and would rather run the risk. This poll also showed that 100 percent of students who took said they prefer in-person school to online school. “ It feels like there’s no separation between being in school and sitting at home for distance learning,” said junior field hockey player, Jenna Whelan. Students across the board said they struggle to focus and stay on task while at home rather than being in school.

100% of students who took this poll with The Chief said that they preferred in-person school to online. As senior soccer player Brandon Rivas stated, “I just get distracted very easily at home, while I’m at school it’s easier to focus and learn“.

So if so many students are home for the sole reason of avoiding contact tracing and MHS now has the data that contact tracing is ineffective in stopping the spread, why are they continuing with it? 

Massapequa cannot change any of their Covid regulations until the state and Centers for Disease Control approves their pending changes. MHS would love to stop contact tracing as soon as the state will allow it. Nothing is getting done in Albany despite the proposals being sent on our part. As of March 19, the CDC has changed the rule of close contact being three feet in schools which holds out hope that rules will start to be lifted after such a long year of these restrictions. 

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