Pandemic practices are blood on the hands of the CHS administration and athletic department

Though the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been horrific, the federal government does not hold quite all of the blame for the ever-growing cases and ever-growing deaths that have already hurt too many living in the USA. Some of that blood is on the hands of the CHS administration. On the ground, local organizations and institutions that have some leeway to slow the spread of the virus are morally obligated to do so. The school’s choice to let sports continue on until around two weeks ago was a violent, irresponsible one. Sports practices that let dozens of students breathe and sweat all over each other in close proximity without requiring them to wear masks could have resulted in exponential infection and mortality. And that is the fault of the CHS Athletic Department and larger administration.

School closed last March. Few students could have predicted that they would be where they are now: at the turn of a new year, under a second lockdown just like the first. The biggest difference? Now, over 300,000 people in this country alone have lost their lives. Cases are not only rising up and up in metropolitan areas: Covid-19 is here, in Claremont. Increasing amounts of students have been calling in sick to the administration. In fact, as of last Friday, Claremont has the fourth highest new case rate in LA County. As I write, there have been 865 confirmed cases and 11 deaths in this town of 36,000. By the time you read this, there will be more. It is as frustrating as it is dangerous that institutions with even a small bit of power to mitigate the damage chose not to. That CHS finally told its sports to stop practicing is too little, too late. They should never have been back in the first place given the state of the nation. Reaction to disaster is not enough — especially not when we are dealing with a highly contagious virus that spreads exponentially. Prevention is key. Prevention would have made what should be CHS’s priorities clear: lives come first.

Every single administrative figure that chose to allow two CHS volleyball coaches to conduct practices before realizing that both of them were exposed to the virus, exposing their players to the virus, is guilty. Though players may have been told to keep six feet apart, this rule was not enforced appropriately. Those who let the very large football team practice in close contact, sharing equipment, maskless, day after day on the same campus where construction workers have no choice but to show up and labor to be paid in a time of economic recession — guilty. Those who let members of the cross-country team run together all over town in small, close clusters, breathing not only on each other but on pedestrians on the street, guilty. The worst part is that running is arguably the only sport that actually could have proceeded safely given that it does not require a team present together to practice whatsoever. In fact, earlier in the year, coaches had their runners practicing alone asynchronously while documenting their times. They could have stuck with that system but chose to endanger everyone instead. The CHS sports policy disaster does not just affect students: youth that are less likely to experience serious adverse health effects go out more out of a false sense of security at the expense of the elderly, the workers, those without health insurance, those without housing, and the Black and Indigenous Americans who experience the greatest rates of mortality.

Though I am sure whoever is reading has heard the following many times before, apparently, the CHS administration needs a reminder. On its website, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) says to wear a mask, limit your in-person interactions, and stay six feet apart, as “[i]n general, the more people you interact with, the more closely you interact with them, and the longer that interaction, the higher your risk of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.” In a global pandemic, actively and carelessly allowing the spread of Coronavirus can be equated to manslaughter. The CHS administration and athletics department put so many unnecessary lives on the line in these past couple months. It needs to be held accountable.