Girls Cross Country To Resume Practice After COVID Scare

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Eiman Navaid

Senior Hannah Yun and senior Campbell Stepan meet up after the successful invite.

By Alli Lipsit, News Editor

Due to a confirmed positive COVID-19 case, boys and girls cross country were temporarily suspended and asked to quarantine. The teams practice in the same area, and the athletes were barred from district property until Friday, Sept. 11.

Principal Dr. Karen Ritter and Athletic Director Dr. Dana Krilich addressed the exposure in a joint email to athletes and parents on Sept. 3.

“Please understand that we cannot disclose the name of the person diagnosed with COVID-19. Due to the nature of the sport, we are unable to identify which students came in close contact with the individual. In an abundance of caution, and as your student may have been in close contact with an individual diagnosed with COVID-19, your student must quarantine at home for 14 days from the date of exposure and cannot be on the District premises until September 11,” Krilich and Ritter wrote.

According to the email, the last time the infected individual was on campus while contagious was August 28.

During this quarantine, the team participated in practices virtually, mainly focusing on team bonding. However, this may impact the team’s plans to improve their running times as meets begin.

“I’m not too worried about our progress as a team over this little suspension. The coaches are continuing to send us workouts for us to do on our own, and most of us are self-motivated enough to actually complete them,” senior and girls Cross Country captain Alexis Mazzenga said.

The girls have been consistent with practices during the pandemic, and this isn’t their first challenge.

“During the summer there was a period of tie similar to this where we couldn’t meet in person, and most of the team still kept up with workouts and held themselves accountable. It’s disappointing not to have any meets over these next two weeks though because that’s where you really push yourself, and unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll get to make those up,” Senior and team captain Lily Carey said.

While the girls work hard to improve outside traditional practice circumstances, with an exposure this early into the school year, extra precautionary measures will be taken.

“In order to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, we will be breaking up into smaller groups, much smaller than the guidelines call for. Also, our district has already set up that we will run flight against other teams. That means that out athletes will not be running at the same time as other teams and will be completely separated from them,” head coach Anne HesseltonĀ said.

While these new rules may help prevent another team quarantine, it seems that some of the athletes remain concerned.

“Honestly, I don’t think the team is being as safe as we should be, and I really don’t think we should even be having a season right now. It’s extremely unsafe. At practices we’re required to wear a mask only when we’re going in and out of the school, and when we’re sitting six feet apart stretching and such. However no masks are required when we’re actually running, and although the coaches advise us to stay 6 feet apart, there’s no way they can actually control that over the mile long course, meaning not only are we running right next to each other, but breathing on each other too. Girls, especially friends who are really close, clump together during the workout. This is such a problem that I felt the need to wear a mask during a workout because girls did not social distance while running. I was the only one who did so” said Senior Ela Kinaci.

This seems to be a common concern among the girls.

“I appreciate the precautions that have been put in place at practice, but they only work when everybody follows them. There’s not much the coaches can do when people aren’t social distancing during parts of the run where they’re not visible. Also, It’s up to the athletes to take on the responsibility of making sure they’re being safe outside of practice as well.” Said Carey.

The girls are planning on returning to practice this Monday, Sept. 14 and will have their next meet Thursday, Sept. 17 at home against Evanston.