Get tested, go to practice and then get the results two days later. At Bonita Vista High (BVH), the COVID-19 testing process that student-athletes go through has garnered disapproval among several members of varying sports—from girls soccer to girls water polo and even girls basketball. As part of the testing process, athletes enter through the front entrance of BVH’s gym for group testing, get their nose swabbed and have their test placed into their respective team’s testing tube. If, in the case that someone tests positive, the entire team returns a couple of days later to conduct rapid testing—a process that Villalpando disagrees with.
“In that window of time, those two days, [the team’s] spreading [COVID-19] because in soccer we aren’t wearing our masks and we’re talking to each other and interacting with one another,” Villalpando said. “When we test, we’re anonymous [so] we don’t know [who is positive] and we’re going to continue spreading it [virus]. It’s this endless cycle of positive tests that we’re getting every week. It’s definitely crippling our team because we’ve had three starters out at one of our league games, which has not been very good. It’s [the testing process] not safe at all.”
Furthermore, according to girls’ water polo player and senior Yarenni Hernandez, the testing done at school can be very inaccurate. She mentioned that the possibility of someone falsely testing positive can be a major issue for her and the team because it could endanger other members.
“People have tested here at school, come out negative, continue practicing, and then they go home and they’re not feeling well. They go take a PCR [test] or go test at a different site and they come out positive,” Hernandez said. “That [getting a false negative test] puts everyone at risk. There was a certain point in our season where a lot of our starters were out and it caused a lot of chaos within the team.”
However, BVH’s water polo and soccer teams are not alone in their feelings. Moreover, varsity girls’ basketball Captain, Point Guard and junior Kaylyn Buchanon-Lamb described that the way BVH goes about testing student-athletes is questionable.
“I [see] testing as a requirement because it would be bad for [COVID-19] to spread to other players. [But, sports teams] should find out test results after taking them [and] before we meet up again,” Buchanon-Lamb said.
Similar to Hernandez, Villalpando expressed that COVID-19 regulations for players who test positive are very “confusing”. A player who is asymptomatic is treated differently than someone who experiences symptoms, someone who is vaccinated, not vaccinated and so on. This system of testing leaves Villalpando wishing for some reform in the testing process in the future.
“I was asymptomatic and I had tested positive and I didn’t know. Obviously, I was spreading it [and] it was very dangerous. Other dangers could be suspension [from playing]. A girl can come back earlier and then it could result in [her] suspension [from the CIF] because we have positive cases,” Villalpando said. “The timing is really weird. I called the office one time and they were telling me one thing, but then the head of sports was telling me another thing. It’s just very complicated [since] they’re not straightforward with us about the rules.”
Looking towards the future, Hernandez hopes that the COVID-19 testing process undergoes some type of restructuring to better ensure the sports teams’ safety.
“I think finding [an] alternative way of testing [could be a solution]. Group testing may be more efficient [at] testing more people faster, but [in] the end people are going to have to keep retesting and it’s going to be a waste of our resources. It’s [testing at school] inaccurate and more people are coming out positive and they don’t realize it,” Hernandez said.