After a surge of cases in the area, MCPS has decided to tighten its COVID-19 guidelines.
On Dec. 26, new cases were confirmed at Blake, seven being related to athletics. The Blake wrestling team was hit hard after some of its athletes tested positive, with the rest of the team being close contacts. In the community, the Paint Branch Boys JV and Varsity Basketball teams did not play their first four games due to positive cases. Another high school in the area, Good Counsel, shut down all sports and activities until after their Winter Break due to the sudden outbreak.
As stated by MCPS, if there are three or more active cases on an athletic team, all team activities will be postponed for two weeks from the date of the last known exposure. MCPS also stated that “student-athletes must wear masks on the bench, when not actively participating,” at basketball games.
Howard County Public Schools canceled all athletics and in-person extracurricular activities until Jan. 15, with re-evaluation coming on Jan. 7. The superintendent of the HCPS, Michael J. Martirano, also mandated that athletic practices/games, theater rehearsals/performances, school concerts, and field trips are all suspended. Howard County says the cause of the rise in cases in December was due to Thanksgiving. The county has 3,720 students and 146 staff members in quarantine.
Blake Senior Noah Mason, who just recently recovered from the virus, says, “It’s a very real feeling, I had sharp chest pains, intense chills, slight fever, headaches, fever nightmares, body aches, and difficulties breathing. Having Covid made me realize how serious this is and that if I was unvaccinated it could’ve been worse for me. Many times I was afraid I could die or end up in the hospital.” He added, ”Being quarantined was difficult because I was away from my team and couldn’t be active and I was desperate to get back on the court because I missed out on our games, photo shoots, and jersey handouts. Returning to basketball as well wasn’t easy because it was harder for me to breathe from what I felt during covid along with part of my muscles aching.” He hopes everybody gets vaccinated since the virus is “very real.”
An update from MCPS as of Jan. 2 says that there will be no spectators allowed at contests in MCPS facilities through Jan. 16, with an update by Jan. 15 regarding the new spectator policy. There are no limitations for outdoor competitions. Indoor track has also been put on pause since the venue of its competition has been turned into a vaccination site.