A Covid Winter at JCHS

Danielle Rapsas

As the number of cases for the CoronaVirus surge, James Caldwell High School will be looking quite different this winter. New guidelines have recently been issued for high school sports by Governor Phil Murphy. As well, there has been a new hybrid schedule that will begin in mid-December. Both of these schedules have been revised in order to keep the students at James Caldwell High School, along with the people from the rest of New Jersey, safe and healthy. 

On November 29th, 2020, Governor Murphy announced a new plan pertaining to high school sports. All high school sports in New Jersey have been pushed back. Some winter sport seasons have also been shortened. Effective December 5th, indoor sports practices and competitions have been suspended until January 2nd, 2021. This is set forth by the Department of Health. Sports of any risk are permitted outside, whether they are contact or non-contact. At a minimum, ice hockey interstate competitions will not commence until at least December 31. There is a regional commitment with New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts that prohibits interstate competition for ice hockey. These new regulations exclude professional and collegiate sports. This is all under Executive Order 204 of 2020. 

Photo Courtesy of Annie Gustavsen

For high school sports, there has been a large shift. Ice hockey practice is set to start January 3rd, 2021. Opening day is January 15, 2021. The end of the season is set for March 6th, 2021. Basketball, fencing, and bowling commence practice January 11th, competition begins January 26th, and competition will end March 6th. The practice start date is February 1st, the competition start date is February 16th, and the competition will end March 27th for swimming and Winter track and field. Wrestling has gotten the most shift change. Along with the fall sports of gymnastics and girls’ volleyball, wrestling has been moved to the third season for Winter sports in March. These practices will start March 1st. Competition will start March 16th and end April 24th. Competition is limited to three weeks per sport. There can only be 15 events during each season. There is no New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) sponsored post-season. Since wrestling has been pushed to Season 3, there is a slim possibility there will be a postseason. There is no out-of-state competition or multi-invitational events allowed. Overall, the sports seasons have been unfortunately postponed and shortened once again. Hopefully, with these new regulations, the athletes at James Caldwell High School and all high school athletes in New Jersey will be given the opportunity to compete and practice for their Winter sport this year. 

In addition to a big change in Winter sports, there is an astronomical change to James Caldwell High School’s Hybrid remote schedule. For December, there will be 6 in-person days in total. These days will be on the following days of December: 10th, 11th, 14th, 15th, and the 16th. There will be 8 days in January that are in person. These days will be from January 19th to January 29th. Although there was talk about moving to two cohorts, JCHS will remain with a three cohort system, A, B, and C. Along with these hybrid days, comes a new schedule. Instead of 4 classes, some days will have six classes. In person school will be from 8:05 to 11:26. Then, there will be a 59-minute lunch break. On the A.M. days 1-3, the day goes period 3, then period 1, then period 2, and then period 4. For Day 1 and Day 4, there will only be four classes. Day 2, Day 3, Day 5, and Day 6 will have afternoon classes. Day 2 will have periods 5 and 6 in the afternoon. Day 4 will have periods 7 and 8 in the afternoon. Day 5 will have periods 1 and 2 in the afternoon and, lastly, Day 6 will have periods 4 and 3 in the afternoon. Days 4-6 in person are the P.M. days which means students will have classes 5-8. Students must Zoom into their classes if they are remote. This change will helpfully hope those that are struggling during a fully remote schedule as the year comes to a close and the new year unfolds.

Although these changes are not final, there is still hope for in person classes and sports. Governor Phil Murphy and the Caldwell-West Caldwell School District have deemed these guidelines as safe for both students and athletes. Everyone is trying to make the best out of this tough and unfortunate situation we are in this winter. The sports and academic classes will be looking quite different here at James Caldwell High School.