Flashbacks to Last March As Upperclassmen Make New Quarantine Sacrifices


David Hartnett

The girls varsity soccer team after their game on Friday against Palmetto High School. However, after an administration decision for all upperclassmen to quarantine for two weeks, the team is one of several now doubtful of whether they will be able to participate in the playoffs.

Kathleen Lewis, Editor-in-Chief

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Senior Cecilia Derlon, senior class president and a member of the girls varsity soccer team, celebrated along with her teammates after a 1-0 win against Palmetto High School last Friday. With only two more scheduled games until the long-awaited district tournament, little did Derlon and her teammates expect that it would be their last soccer game for two weeks — or more.

“It’s very upsetting and saddening to have the possibility of not playing in districts, as I have for the past three years, and of course want to again as it’s my last year,” Derlon said.

On Saturday, Jan. 24, families received a grim email from the administration: “To protect the health and safety of our community, all 11th and 12th grade students must learn remotely until Monday, February 8,” the message read. “They may not participate in any Gulliver activities or athletics until Saturday, February 6.” 

Administrators made the decision when seven upperclass students reported testing positive for COVID-19 after attending two large gatherings last holiday weekend. This number is expected to grow as other students were exposed to the virus at the events. The final decision came out of the facts that the infected students who attended school in-person also shared classes in common, and that those involved in the gathering were not forthcoming with information about it, according to administrators.

“Given the number of simultaneous, linked cases in the junior and senior classes, we had no choice but to require this quarantine to protect the health and safety of our community and contain any further spread of the virus,” President Cliff Kling said on Monday.

However, the soccer team is just one of many groups directly affected by the change. Athletes in sports like weightlifting and basketball now also face the possibility of missing playoffs. Members of these groups expressed their feelings of disappointment and frustration after hearing the news. The results of this decision force all students to make unexpected sacrifices, particularly athletes and those uninvolved in the outbreak. 

“I think as seniors we should be leaders and show the younger grades that these are serious times,” said Derlon. She and other members of the Student Council held a meeting with administrators on Tuesday, Jan. 26, where they voiced student concerns, discussed perspectives, and considered potential solutions. “As for soccer, I believe working out a viable solution for both the administration and the girls on the team is the most fair plan of action.”

But when it comes to all athletics, the quarantine decision is unflinching, and the administration confirms all upper class athletes will not be able to participate in practices and games, including playoff games, until the two weeks have passed.

The decision was also an obstacle for students comfortably adjusting to a return to school after the holidays, or students preparing to resume an in-person education. These upper class students, including those who were not involved in the weekend gatherings and those who have under class siblings, said that they felt that the blanket quarantine for all juniors and seniors was unfair. Some students also expressed support to implement more disciplinary measures for students who refuse to follow COVID guidelines, in the hope that safety could be more enforced and situations like this one more avoidable.

Students, athletes, and members of the community as a whole cannot help but be reminded of last March’s quarantine that unfortunately curtailed end-of-year opportunities and traditions. However, this time there is a preparedness and clearer line of sight that last March lacked. As frustrated as the student body may feel with the news, this preparedness is the very reason the decision was made to begin with. Despite the unexpected changes and challenges, all members of the school community — students and administrators alike — are determined not to let the end of last year’s disappointments repeat themselves.

“Our [the administration’s] job is that we have to protect the school,” explained Principal Jonathan Schoenwald in an interview on Tuesday. “I really have a lot of confidence in everyone. This may be the wake-up call that we all needed, and the goal is to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”