Ensuring players’ safety

SUHSD partners with SDSU to provide COVID-19 tests to athletes


Angelina Ruckman

Bonita Vista High (BVH) athlete Jordan Whitehead waits for her COVID-19 test results next to the weight room. Recently updated guidelines state that protocols for afterschool and extracurricular activity regarding COVID testing will be forthcoming in the wake an increase in cases.

Adali Leon and Angelina Ruckman

In the beginning of April, it was announced by the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) that they were partnering up with San Diego State University (SDSU) for their project, Communities Fighting COVID! This partnership serves all students, athletes, coaches and staff at Bonita Vista High (BVH) and other schools in the district. 

Communities Fighting COVID! is funded by the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) and provides tests and services to vulnerable and low-income residents of San Diego County to control the spread of COVID-19. In particular, athletes and coaches use these tests in order to play in a safe environment. BVH’s girls’ basketball team benefits from this testing program.

We [BVH varsity girls’ basketball] get tested once every week on Wednesdays. The team will head over and get tested as a group,” Head Coach of the BVH varsity girls’ basketball team Tristan Lamb said.

To ensure the safety of the players during the testing, everyone has to follow a specific guideline while on campus. According to Lamb, the players are able to get their test results within 20 minutes after taking the nose swab test. He added that they then take a sanitized iPad to the waiting area and answer a questionnaire with the typical COVID questions in regards to symptoms and contact trace. Once the results are in, he said they are taken to another tented area to go over the results.

Fortunately, Lamb mentioned no girls on his team have received a positive result for their COVID test. Athletic Director Tyler Arciaga explained the preparations that have been set in place in case someone received a positive test.

“[Contact tracing] varies on a case by case basis. Based on the contact tracing, what ends up happening [is] the person is isolated and quarantined. It depends on what their proximity was and will depend on everybody else [to determine] if the team shuts down,” Arciaga said.

If I am following all the COVID protocols […] I can make sure I keep me and my teammates safe from COVID.”

— Sophomore and student athlete Madison Canon

Testing is held outside of BVH’s weight room and typically helps 15 to 20 people at a time including students, coaches, the boys’ and girls’ basketball team and the boys and girls volleyball team. Sophomore and student athlete Madison Canon is thankful to have this program at BVH to help support her and the basketball team.

“I feel safe because if I am following all the COVID protocols […] I can make sure I keep me and my teammates safe from COVID,” Canon said. 

Canon added that everyone keeps their mask on unless they are on the court playing. Lamb is also appreciative of the safety these COVID tests bring to him, his team and the supporters in the bleachers. 

“I feel safe playing against other teams because I know that everyone on the court has been tested. That gives you a sense of security knowing that it is a requirement to be tested and that everyone’s safety is a priority,” Lamb said.

Due to the pandemic, SUHSD did not allow parents to watch the games, causing the environment of the gym to be different. However, in the girls’ basketball team situation, all games were livestreamed on their Youtube channel, Lady Barons Basketball.

There’s smaller crowds and less teams. It sucks because our girls have been fighting and working hard to be number one. Now we are finally there, [and we] cannot have the big crowds and play a national schedule as we usually do,” Lamb said. 

After the start of the season and coming to a sense of normality, the district allowed indoor sports to start having spectators again. However, the amount of people allowed at the events are limited in order to follow all the necessary safety protocols.

“Each player gets two guests—from both the home and the visitors—and parents are required to wear masks while on campus,” Arciaga said.

Although having less spectators may not be the most convenient case, this limitation does not stop the team from trying their best to succeed. Focusing on the positives, Lamb explains how he and his team feel “blessed and happy” to have the opportunity to have a season at all despite the circumstances.

“I don’t think it takes away from the close bonding with the team because it helped bring us together. We had to stay in our own bubble for a long time. It was only us staying together, practicing without being able to play games,” Lamb said. “We pushed through it and we are getting the results we have been working for.”