COVID Testing For All Athletes Begins

Peach Schilling, Editor-In-Chief

School may not be in session, but basketball, wrestling, swimming, and cheerleading practices are, under one condition — all athletes must get their brain tickled every other week. COVID-19 testing for athletics throughout the state of Utah is now mandatory.

After governor Gary Herbert’s public health order was announced on Nov. 8, the Utah High School Activities Association suspended all winter sporting activities for a two-week period. Many athletes, coaches, and parents were saddened and worried that there was no near future for participation in athletics. 

Herbert did not extend the extracurricular activity intermission after Nov. 23, and announced that athletes could return to practices and competition as long as they were tested for COVID once every two weeks. For Highland students, this process began yesterday. 

Senior and varsity basketball player Bria Neeleman is glad that the state has implemented testing for athletes so sports can continue. 

“I 100 percent think it’s the right thing to do,” Neeleman said. “It’s important to keep us, our families, and everyone else safe.”

Highland administration conducted the testing in Highland’s south balcony and followed a schedule in which athletes, coaches, team managers, and athletic trainers were tested. No individuals will be allowed at practices or games without receiving a negative test result.

Neeleman hopes that the bi-weekly testing of athletes will decrease the chances of team shut downs, one of which occurred early in the season. Two players tested positive during the team’s open gyms and the whole team was quarantined. Luckily, it wasn’t spread to other players and everyone returned healthy. 

The girls’ basketball team has been lucky in the sense that they have been able to be practicing together to prepare for the season that began last week. 

“We keep our distance and wear masks [during practice], but games are a little scary because we don’t know what germs the other team may be bringing,” Neeleman said. “We’ve been using so much hand sanitizer. I swear there is a new bottle everyday.”

Neeleman and other athletes are excited to have the opportunity to be able to practice and compete during the global pandemic, and hope that the implemented testing will make things safer.