As students returned to school, Covid challenged in-person extracurricular activities


Extracurricular activities like wresting are hard to enforce distance safety Covid protocols as two wrestlers from Foothill High praciting illustrates. Photo by Amaya Davis, Foothill High.

Akshaj Mehta, Natomas Pacific Pathways Preparatory

Sacramento-area students have returned to their in-person extracurricular activities, but that doesn’t mean things are back to normal. Instead, kids say they are learning to adapt to a different set of challenges that come with in-person connection during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Natomas Pacific Pathways Preparatory (NP3) High School’s dance team is currently operating in-person at school, but with restrictions on performances and with increased regulations to keep participants safe.  Team members auditioned remotely in the 2019-2020 school year, and communicated through Google Classroom. .

Even with in-person practices, “it is nowhere near our old version of normal,” said NP3 junior Naysa Cinquegrana, who joined the team as a freshman in 2018. “We continue to wear masks at practice, we cannot perform at school rallies, there are less performance opportunities outside of school, and there is still not as much team bonding.”

Another challenge: Time management. After a year of remote school, students in clubs and sports programs have had to adjust both to on-campus classes and in-person activities after school. Kalil Wolford, a basketball player for The Laguna Creek Cardinals, said he has had to learn to balance schoolwork with going to practice 6 days each week. 

I’ve been handling my school work and everything is really good, I just had to get used to being at school again but once it came around I was doing good. It’s very different from before because pandemic year I didn’t really have to plan for the day and I didn’t really didn’t need to manage at all,” he said. 

Due to a recent rise in COVID-19 cases, he still doesn’t know if there will be statewide competitions for high school basketball teams.

NP3 student Noah Crocker, who is a member of the Speech and Debate team at the private Sacramento Waldorf School, said activities are bound to be more stressful due to necessary COVID-19 precautions such as masking and staying 6 feet apart. 

“Speech and debate tournaments are 11-12 hours,” he said. Now that things are back to being in-person, rather than all on Zoom, “it’s easier since you’re talking to people, but it’s masks all the time, it’s six feet apart and you have to be super careful.”

NP3 physics and engineering teacher Kim Knestrick, who teaches a robotics class that participates in off-campus competitions, said the activity is “almost back to normal.” Students are back to riding together on a bus to competitions rather than driving separately, for example.

Everyone is wearing a mask, if they eat they have to go outside, so they socialize outside. We started off at first that they would clean their hands… especially because of the new virus, they realize they need to not be super close. They space themselves out,” she said.

So with all the challenges, is holding activities in-person worth it? Dance team member Cinquegrana emphatically says yes.

It feels amazing to be around people who share the same passion as I do. We have a great time despite the limitations and we are extremely excited to be performing at our Forte, Regionals, State, and National competitions in 2022,” she said.