Phase 0? New Guidelines Are Established for Extracurricular Activities


Donated to the Central Digest

NEW GUIDELINES ARISE FOR EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES AT THE START OF SECOND SEMESTER — The Central Voices performed at Channel 3’s Share Your Christmas event in 2019.

Sarah Katheron Latham, Assistant Editor

“Health Guidelines” is a phrase that has become all too familiar in the past year. The Hamilton County Department of Education has focused on creating guidelines that keep everyone learning safely.  As the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year came to a close, new policies were developed in response to new data and community input. An official statement was issued on December 30: “Athletics can resume practices as of Wednesday, Jan. 6, pending notification from relevant coaching staff and in accordance with Governor Lee’s most recent Executive Order.  All other activities, after school programs, and extracurriculars will remain remote/virtual for now.” Sports events are required to stay within the guidelines put out by the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association.

“The only spectators in the gym are family members that live in the same house as the athlete, first responders, school faculty, TSSAA representatives, and members of the team. Each coach is responsible to generate a list of approved spectators… All spectators must have a mask on, all the time,” explained Steve Lewis, Assistant Principal and Athletic Director at Central.

Throughout the first semester, students have been unable to resume their regularly scheduled extracurricular activities as normal. Band and choir had been restricted to regulations reducing practice time and requiring mask usage.  All other clubs (Ruriteen, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Debate team, etc.) have been required to meet virtually, socially-distanced (working around the current phase guidelines), or not at all.  Students rely on clubs and extracurricular activities to build friendships, cultivate talents, and just enjoy themselves.  In an effort to remain safe, this has been (temporarily) removed from the high school experience.  Some efforts have been made to prevent complete elimination of these activities.

“High school sports is an important part of kid’s lives. It’s an important part of our culture, it’s very important to me that we do everything we can to protect and keep high school sports going,” stated Governor Bill Lee in an interview discussing the latest executive order.

The continuation of sports is an important part of many students’ lives.  As a result of Governor Lee’s executive order, girls’ and boys’ basketball and wrestling have been able to continue.

“I don’t have a problem with [continuing sports], but I do think about if I might catch [COVID-19] playing basketball… but if I’m on the court all I think about is basketball. I do miss my friends.  I would go to school if I could for choir,” declared Alissa Walton, a junior on the Lady Pounders Basketball team and a member of the Central Voices Concert Choir.

While sports have been preserved, students are involved in many other types of activities connected to the school.  Those activities, although temporarily, have been taken away from students.

“I would argue that performing arts should continue for the very same reasons.  I have students who have worked to cultivate a specialized skill set that they would like to share with the community.  I also have several students who will be majoring in music next fall who will be taking scholarship auditions very soon.   We [Performing Arts] have COVID protection protocols that we follow just as closely as the TSSAA protocols that our sports teams follow,” expressed Joseph Archer, band director at Central.

Katheron Latham, Central’s choir director and piano teacher, responded in a similar way.

“Performing arts groups perform some of the benefits to students as sports do. Students learn to work together as a group with each of them having responsibilities. These students are developing skills that some of them will use for a lifetime. Students are missing out on time to develop these skills,” voiced Latham.

Students have been put through enormous change this year through all of the activities that have been cancelled and routines that have been altered.  Students remain frustrated over the cancellations even though the school system strives to keep everyone safe.

“It makes me upset because sports are being able to meet up and be able to go to competitions but students aren’t allowed to come back to school to learn in-person,” voiced Junior Leah Green, a member of the Central Voices Concert Choir.

Senior Melanie Rosseau, who performs in Central’s marching band and jazz band, shares Green’s frustration.

“I think frankly it’s unfair that only sports get to meet. As performing arts put in the same, if not more, amount of time on their performances as sports do for games.  For me as a Senior it makes me really sad that I might not be able to get my last few performances…or I might not be able to have prom and other things you look forward to as a senior.  I know for me not being able to be around my friends makes me really sad. Also being home all the time makes me stressed,” revealed Rousseau.

Despite the delays to resuming extracurricular activities, efforts are being made to continue to develop students’ talents and passions.  Zoom is not a platform useful for choir or band rehearsals, but the choir and band have continued to practice music through online curriculums like SmartMusic and Voices In Concert.  Through all of the restrictions and guidelines, Central continues to make the most of every situation.