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Middle School Athletics Before and After the Coronavirus: A Thistle Article

The coronavirus pandemic has immensely influenced and impacted the lives of all people around the world, including the SAC population, especially in terms of sports. 

At the launch of the 2019-2020 school year, the physical education and sports program was highly anticipated, especially by the energetic Middle School boys as they selected their sports for the term. Physical education is not only a course where students can demonstrate their athletic capabilities; playing sports can aid in the development of communication, teamwork, and sportsmanship skills.

At the end of the school days, students were eager to get changed in the changerooms of Yuill Gym. Group by group, the boys would head out to participate and contribute to their chosen sport. The boys' laughter could be heard from all over the SAC campus, which created a resemblance of a muffled human voice. 

In the first term, the boys would develop their skills and improve on their athletic capabilities. As sports continued, the weather began to change as the bright green leaves transformed gradually into crispy, pastel-coloured leaves. The days were getting breezy and short as the daylight disappeared and the green grass became topped with frigid, lustrous white snow. 

As winter began, the arena was tightly packed every day with students watching the varsity team, hoping to predict the outcome of the MacPherson Cup. Hockey brings both Middle School and Upper School students together to construct a marvellous fan base that encourages and motivates the First Hockey team throughout the tournament.

Following the Christmas break, students were smiling as they played their racket sports unit in gym class. However, nearing March break, a virus known as COVID-19 emerged, silently infecting the population.

Slowly, coronavirus made a grand entrance infecting people all over the world. When the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, SAC had to shut down. Students transitioned to online classes. For the Middle School students' gym classes, the spark that was evident throughout the beginning of the year was eradicated from their eyes as they found less joy in playing/exercising through a video call. 

Fast forward to September. The re-opening of school saw an opportunity where the boys could be enthusiastic again as they returned to sports and in-person school, this time, with a twist. Gym teachers at SAC, such as Ms Derwin, have noticed a significant difference. 

When asked about what measures gym teachers would be taking to keep their Middle School students safe while still providing them with an excellent education, Ms Derwin replied, "So, this year looks very different. When you enter the Yuill Gym, you will always have a mask on, and it will stay on, and there are now red stickers that are socially distanced are used to provide a seat for students for attendance purposes. Also, the gym's entrance and exit are all one way; therefore, there will be no cross-contamination of paths. The students will use the hand sanitizer frequently, and each student will be given a piece of equipment, i.e. a frisbee with a number so that there will once again be no cross-contamination. And at the end of class, the teachers such as myself will spray down the equipment with the provided flogger and let it rest for 15 minutes so that each piece of equipment is sanitized."

The Physical Education staff at SAC are taking action and implementing restrictions to help maintain the opening of the School. Among all these new limitations, the students are keeping an open mind as to how the Physical Education program will run. Regardless, the students are grateful for the in-school experience and are willing to adapt to the new norm.

This year, sports are typically played socially distanced, so masks do not always need to be worn. However, if one was playing a close encounter sport, the coaches follow the rule that masks must be worn to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. All sports follow the same guidelines for sanitizing equipment to prevent the spread of coronavirus and keep students safe.

We must stand up to the challenges created by the coronavirus, and we must adapt just like the Middle School boys who have had the spark in their eyes re-lit.

Story by Karrar Jaber '23

Creativity is celebrated in the English classroom at St. Andrew's. Students write short stories, experiment with poetry, or try their hand at scriptwriting. They are encouraged to share their work with the extended SAC community by publishing their work on the arts and literary magazine website, The Thistle
St. Andrew's College
15800 Yonge Street, Aurora, ON L4G 3H7 Canada
Tel: 905-727-3178