Campus Events Canceled As Virus Concerns Mount

Jessica Rosiak and Amanda Young

As the world struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic, Campolindo has implemented a number of new policies and canceled or rescheduled several events in an attempt to keep students safe.

As of March 12, according to Mercury News, there were 16 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Contra Costa County.

School staff met in the library on the morning of March 11 for an update regarding the district’s response to the coronavirus. Teachers then presented slideshows to their 4th-period classes about best practices for avoiding catching and spreading the virus.

The school is also implementing more sanitation measures, and soap dispensers in bathrooms are accompanied by signs with hand-washing instructions.

March 13’s staff development day, originally intended to address issues of equity, was instead focused on creating an online curriculum with the expectation that schools would soon be closed.

“There is a focus on equity and diversity but also looking at the possibility of being prepared should we need to look at online instruction,” said associate principal Laura Lee regarding the shift of the March 13 teacher workday.

The Campolindo administration and nurse Barbara Polanger referred La Puma reporters to Superintendant John Nickerson’s statement on COVID-19. In emails sent to parents and students, Nickerson wrote, “We continue to work with County and State public health officials regarding the District’s response. We are in consultation regarding best preventative practices to slow or limit the spread of the virus and are refining our planning with the support of Contra Costa Health Services.”

According to Nickerson, the district is “exploring and developing [its] online options for students who need to stay home for extended periods of time or should there be a long-term school closure.”

Many events at Campolindo have already been impacted.

The March Madness rally and dance, which were scheduled for March 11 and 12, respectively, were postponed due to concerns regarding the coronavirus. Junior ASB Commissioner of Student Affairs Sophie Webster said that the status of most events is “yet to be determined.”

The March Madness Dance is “a big part of the year, and it has 1 of the highest participation levels” of any school dance, according to Webster. “I kind of go back and forth because it’s optional to go to the dance, but it’s such a serious issue in the school, so they can’t afford to take chances.”

Though the decorations were already purchased and a deposit was put down for the DJ, Webster is confident that other expenses will be refunded.  According to Webster, the funds already spent on the events was “not that much.” However, should the next major social event of the year be canceled, there will likely be a significant financial consequence. “They’ve already paid the money” for the junior prom, which sums to several thousands of dollars. “It’s a larger scale,” said Webster.

The March 14 SAT was also canceled. According to a SchoolLoop announcement posted by Administrative Assistant Mary Kenny-Broda, who manages the test registrations and facilitating the SAT exam at all district schools. “We apologize for any inconvenience we have caused you, but in the interest of student safety and health, we will not be administering it on Saturday. We will work with the College Board on re-schedule options as soon as we are able to safely administer the exam. If you have questions regarding rescheduling or refunds, please contact College Board directly,” wrote Kenny-Broda.

The Academic Decathalon team has also been impacted. The team, which just won the Regional Championship, found out on March 9 that it will have to compete online for its state competition, according to junior co-captain Zoe Heidersbach.

“We are all disappointed that we can’t go to Sacramento for the state competition, especially the seniors who are competing for the last time. But we understand that the risk is too high to have several hundred students in a room together for 5 hours and that it would be especially dangerous at state for family members who might come to watch our super quiz competition. We would much rather compete remotely than risk exposing anyone to COVID-19,” said Heidersbach.

The adjustment means that the team will not be able to compete in the speech or interview portions of the competition. “I know that the team will work just as hard to prepare for our competition as they would if we were actually traveling to Sacramento, but the atmosphere at the competition is definitely different,” Heidersbach added.

The Science Fair Club planned to enter the Contra Costa County Science and Engineering Fair, which was to be held March 12-14. According to sophomore Daylin Atwood, the fair was originally canceled because of the Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS)’s guidance that all mass gatherings with 50 or more people be canceled. “But, they created a solution, where we would just turn in our boards and the judges would judge them without us speaking,” said Atwood. “It’s been an inconvenience, but at least we still get some credit for the work we’ve done over the past few months.”

The Youth Action Campaign Club canceled its bake sale, which was scheduled for March 13 to raise money for an official state historical marker in Mississippi honoring murder victims Henry Dee and Charles Moore that English teacher Shannon Sieckert helped get approved. “We had been planning to do it today [March 13], but in view of the coronavirus and how all other school activities were shutting down, we decided it would be in [the] best interest of everyone’s health to postpone it,” said club president sophomore Lela Tolajian. “It was hard since we had already baked a lot of food, but overall we decided it would be best to play it safe.”

Other events, like college counselor Joan Batchellor’s Campo Connect, College Edition event, and the AUHSD Parent Homework Night, which were scheduled for March 10 and 11, were postponed until later dates that have yet to be determined.