Athletics resume with same rules, more adherence


Andrew Burke-Stevenson

After the extended break, where classes were delayed until Jan. 10, U-High athletes return to their sports with stricter mask-wearing and social distancing expectations.

Peter Pu, Editor-In-Chief

With athletic team practices and physical education classes resuming Jan. 10 and competitions resuming Jan. 17, students are responsible for meeting stricter mask-wearing and social distancing expectations. Competitions will resume, but no outside spectators besides athletes’ parents are siblings are allowed to attend until Feb. 14. 

The new athletic expectations are part of the COVID-19 mitigation guidelines, following the rise of infection rates of the omicron variant and the overload of hospitals. 

“The main modification is simply a very strict adherence to the mask wearing,” David Ribbens, athletics director, said. “I think that that was a little bit lax in November and December to the extent that it was not followed as strictly as we need it to be followed.”

Physical education classes will involve lower intensity activities, while still requiring students to stay masked. The fitness center remains open for use, under the same mask-wearing rules. While SHIELD testing took place in Kovler Gymnasium during the Jan. 3 initiation week, testing will be moved to Gordon Parks Arts Hall to not interfere with classes. 

However, as interscholastic team competitions resume Jan. 17, Mr. Ribbens expects that with higher intensity sports like basketball, players from other teams may not follow the same mask-wearing rules. 

“It is difficult,” Mr. Ribbens said. “I mean, basketball, particularly obviously, when you’re exerting yourself like that and having to wear a mask. It’s going to pose a challenge for the kids.”

Athletes should check the Laboratory Schools athletics page, as games are being rescheduled and will continue to be rescheduled. 

As these new guidelines may remind students of distance learning in 2020, when in-person physical education and team practices were not possible. Mr. Ribbens said that students should not take for granted the opportunity to participate in athletics at Lab. 

“We’re hopeful that the students realize that if we really do a poor job of executing and not following the masking, it could be taken away again,” Mr. Ribbens said, “and that would really be a shame.”