Cancellations Caused by Coronavirus

TUSD, including West High, is shut down until May 4th.
Photo courtesy of 
Wikimedia Commons.

TUSD, including West High, is shut down until May 4th. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Ashley Kim, Editor-in-Chief

Self-quarantine.  Social distancing.  Schools closing.  Within a few weeks, the novel coronavirus swept the world in a pandemic, reaching California and slowly causing the closure of schools, churches, stores, and businesses.  Efforts to control the spread have closed down most activity for more than a month.  West High has not been spared from shutdowns―the school is closed for several weeks and many events have been canceled.

Even before TUSD ordered all schools to shut down, several events were canceled or postponed in anticipation of health concerns surrounding large gatherings of people.  In the week of March 9th to March 13th, West High’s track meets, drill competitions and the Speech and Debate state tournament were all canceled, to name a few.  Play Production’s “Shrek” performance was postponed and Korean Culture Night was called off.

For West High’s drill team, their three biggest competitions were canceled, including Miss Dance Drill USA, a national competition which the team had been preparing for all year.

“It’s the most important drill event of the year,” drill team member Taylor Benedict (10) said.  “But I’m just hoping that this year’s team will get to perform together at least one more time.”

Members of the track team suffered major losses as well.  With school closed for several weeks, track season is nearly extinguished.

Maddie Webster (10), a member of West’s track team, commented, “My team is disappointed because we have been practicing for months for this season.  The seniors are upset because this was going to be their last few races.”

The order to shut down school was issued on Friday, March 13th, in an email sent by TUSD.  The week leading up to the decision was fraught with uneasiness and uncertainty among students and staff.  Days were spent counting other schools that shut down, watching headlines, and monitoring the growth of COVID-19 as it encroached on West High.  Finally, at the end of the week, it was announced that school would be shut down from March 17th to March 30th, a total of two weeks away from school.

About a week after the initial announcement, the district-wide closure was extended to May 4th, adding five more weeks―all of April.  In the midst of such an unprecedented event, school departments and planned events are scrambling to reschedule and replan.

At the forefront of both students’ and teachers’ worries are standardized tests.  With more than a month away from school, testing in May and June has become much more difficult.  Not only does online schooling make learning a challenge, but worries about the SAT, ACT, and AP test dates increased―what would happen if the coronavirus prevented tests from being administered?

In response to mounting concerns, the May SAT and AP tests are set to be rescheduled to a later date.  Additionally, AP tests are being shortened and reconfigured so they can be taken electronically at home.  Multiple choice portions of the exams are being cut out, and content covered in the tests is being shortened as well.

Several school events remain in limbo as well.  West’s Dance Department had scheduled their culminating May dance show for April 30th through May 2nd.  However, with school canceled through May 4th, the show hangs in the balance.  Hours of preparation, learning, and perfecting could go to waste if the show is canceled.  Beginning dancer Isabella Santana (10) worked hard with her team to choreograph, teach, and audition a full dance piece.

“We really wanted to show others what we were capable of and we worked very hard to achieve our goals,” she said.  “I was looking forward to May show for months and since I was a choreographer, I couldn’t wait to see my name on the program as a choreographer.”

Countless events have been canceled or are in danger of being canceled.  Spring brought the culmination of a year’s work for many teams from different areas at West.  Major competitions and performances are threatened.  Seniors worry about prom and graduation.  Test-taking hopefuls wonder if their college admissions will be affected.  Students and teachers alike hold their breath for coronavirus to pass and for life to get back to normal.

While most students’ fear of getting sick is barely existent, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on their daily lives.  A plethora of rich opportunities and events have been postponed or canceled, and for the first time in a while, many students now wish for school to resume as soon as possible.