Park City High School Reacts to COVID-19

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PC Prospector Staff

COVID-19, also known as coronavirus disease, has taken the world by storm since the first case developed in Wuhan, China, in November. In just the past two days, the NBA season, E3, March Madness, shows on Broadway, traveling to Europe, musician tours, the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and many other events have all been canceled. 

 

But not school. At least not yet. Still, teachers and students are preparing for the possibility.

 

For high school athletics, Coronavirus has paused all spring sports for the next two weeks. Starting Monday, March 16th, there will be a two-week break for all spring sports. This includes boys and girls lacrosse, boys soccer, track and field, girls golf, baseball, and softball. 

 

During this two week break, all games are canceled but practices are still scheduled to go on as usual. 

 

“I don’t get why we still have practice.” said Junior soccer player Wyatt Adams, “Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of decreasing big groups?” 

 

Activities Director Jamie Sheetz believes that these decisions are being made as precautionary measures and that we are getting prepared for worse possibilities.

 

In addition to sports and due to the concerns of spreading the coronavirus, all school music concerts were canceled yesterday.

 

“I support the decisions made by the local theater and health advisors because they have information I probably don’t,” said Mr. Tanner, the director of the PCHS orchestras. “It is a personal disappointment that we couldn’t perform, but public safety is more important.”

 

The orchestra concert scheduled for Thursday, April 12th, may be rescheduled to a later date. For now, however, concerns about the coronavirus have postponed or canceled most out-of-school activities.

 

Math teacher Mr. Janes’ main focus is to make the online process as easy and convenient and possible for the students. 

 

Physics teacher Ms. Waller has been exploring the possibility of using interactive online services like Google Hangouts and Canvas Conferences. These programs allow students to log on and interact with the lesson via visual and audio software. 

Along with some other teachers, she believes that it should be planned to stay with the current bell schedule to “avoid conflicts” between core teachers. 

 

Nutrition specialist Elizabeth Luebbers said that while the school district closing does not directly affect the nutrition department, the department is concerned about students who receive free or reduced lunch.  Luebbers said the director is exploring the possibility of busing those students to an alternate location for meals or delivering meals remotely, but nothing has been officially decided yet. 

 

The Sterling Scholar competition which was supposed to take place at Utah Valley University on Monday, March 16th has been canceled.  PCHS scholars will potentially complete interviews electronically, rather than in person, on a later date in April. 

 

Chris Taylor, the Band Director at PCHS, has been hit hard with the cancellations. Park City High was supposed to host the State Jazz Competition, and have forty to fifty bands come in and play. 

 

Taylor said that it’s disappointing that it didn’t happen, because State tends to be a pinnacle for a lot of schools for their jazz season. 

 

He’s looking on the bright side, though. 

 

“It also frees up a lot of time to do something different. Maybe find some other musical thing for students to do instead of worrying about playing for a judge,” he said.

 

If school gets closed, it will be hard for the band because they can’t physically rehearse together. Taylor is playing with the idea that they might do something with garageband, each student recording their own part and sending it in to compile it digitally. 

 

Taylor thinks the most interesting thing to come out of the COVID-19 cancelations is how the lack of arts will affect the world. He thinks that the lack of shows will bring more people out to see live shows after, and get that community up and running again. 

 

“On a personal note, some of my friends in the Utah Symphony are struggling,” Taylor said. “The rest of their season is canceled, and they’re not gonna get paid.”  

 

Senior Scott Peacock, who is a member of Varsity Jazz Band and the Wind Ensemble, while saddened, understands the safety reasons behind potentially canceling school and canceling the State Jazz Competition. He also said that they won’t be able to practice as a group or potentially play in another concert. 

 

Peacock is fearful that students will not keep up with their school work on Canvas during the break and days will have to be added to the end of year, postponing graduation.  If canceling graduation is necessary for the health of older members of the community, Peacock would support the decision. 

 

When it comes to the theater program, teacher Krischelle Hansen has prepared in case the school building does close down. Her theater 1, 2, and 3 classes will work on and submit relevant assignments through canvas, things like video recorded monologue or scene analysis writings. 

 

“It’s really nice because we’ve all got our computers and we can record ourselves. I can see their performance and there’s not as much fear getting up in front of an audience.” said Hansen.

 

Theater requires an audience and it’s hard to go on without one. All of broadway is shut down, and all performances are canceled. Ms. Hansen can come into work, she can still get paid, but other theater professionals are stressed. “They don’t do shows, they don’t get paid.” she said. 

 

Even still there is concern for the parents of students. Many are over 50, with conditions that make them high risk if they were to contract the Coronavirus disease. Hansen stated, “It’s not just saying safe for you, it’s staying safe for your parents.” 

 

In terms of students can do their part to prevent the coronavirus, it appears that washing one’s hands is the best way to go, but hand sanitizer is a good secondary solution.

 

“Hand sanitizer is a good solution if it is your only solution,” she said. 

 

“However, we have not proven that it actually kills the virus. It is more effective if you have running water and soap and to wash your hands in running water. We have plenty of sinks in the building. I have 8 sinks in my lab, bathroom sinks, and more. That is probably more effective,” she said.

 

Even Ms. Hansen has something to be worried about. She was in the midst of the bear spray attack last year and since then her lungs remained damaged. “After [the attack] my lungs are frappéd, and so it’s definitely not going to help me if I get it.” Not only are older people at risk but also people who have been injured in this type of way. 

 

As of now, school is under “business as usual” conditions. But many in the community think a closure is inevitable.