The following weekend, interscholastic games resumed, but the major shift back to pre-pandemic behavior also brought on the possibility of increased chances of viral transmission.
The decision to resume interscholastic competition came after both the FAA league and Hopkins concluded that it would be both safe and beneficial to do so. Director of Medical Services and Associate Director of Athletics Don Bagnall stated that, compared to the fall and winter seasons, there is now “a better understanding on how the Covid-19 Virus is transmitted and treated.” He continued: “Using the standard mitigation strategies of social distancing, mask-wearing, hygiene, health checks and testing allows sports to restart for the spring.” Bagnall also added that resuming competitive sports was a priority because of its effect on students’ physical and mental health, noting that “physical activity plays an important part in the mental [and] physical health of people of all ages, but certainly young people.” In order to ensure the safety of interscholastic games for their participants, a couple of adjustments to this season’s schedule were made. Bagnall explained that “the number of games has been reduced [with] most games occurring on Saturdays and a handful of Wednesdays.” Transportation to and from games was also adjusted to allow for “flexibility for parents to take their young people directly to the game, instead of a bus,” said Bagnall.
Many precautions and safety measures from the winter and fall seasons are also carrying over to this season’s practices and games. Mask-wearing and social distancing remain pillars of Hopkins athletics and are enforced by the Athletics department. Bagnall also noted that the “sharing of equipment [is limited], and if it is shared, [it] is cleaned as much as possible.” To facilitate the overall safety and hygiene of athletes, Bagnall added that “cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, [and]spare masks are available.”
The safety measures taken by Hopkins have made some athletes feel very safe and comfortable going to sports practice. Dhalia Brelsford ’23 stated: “I think I feel much better now that everything is outdoors as much as possible and, in general, sports has not worried me as much as, say, the lunch line.” Many Hopkins students believe that returning to sports is imperative, so ensuring that practice is safe is essential. Jada Lowery ’24 said, “It is super important to continue practices, both to keep up with other schools who we will have to play next year and for all the people who draw immense joy from sports and rely on it as their means of destressing.”
In regards to the resumption of games with other schools, however, some Hopkins students are less supportive. Daya Baum ’24 said that although “sports bring up morale, we can’t trust all the other schools to be as safe as Hopkins, and shouldn’t just expect them to be as careful as us.” Laila Samuel ’23 felt similarly: “Returning to games/meets isn’t wise...Com- ing back fully in-person was a big step and we’ve been able to be successful because of our protocols. I don’t think the same caution is being applied to competitions.”
Although there are some concerns on resuming games, most athletes and students are very excited for a genuine, though altered, spring sports season. Boys Varsity Lacrosse Captain Cooper Bucklan ’21 said, “Resuming sports was absolutely [the right] decision--especially because spring sports did not have a season last year.” He continued: “Because of where we are at in the pandemic and with vaccine distribution, it is perfectly safe to play, and it was the right decision to resume sports.” Amy Metrick ’23 agreed, adding that “[having games] allows Hopkins to regain some normalcy, fun, competition, and school spirit that is really important right now.”