Coronavirus 3/12: Robotics, speech and debate, athletics and more canceled

PHOTO: Members of Citrus Circuits, the Davis High robotics team, pose under the St. Louis gateway arch. Their competition on March 11 through 14 was canceled, and the team will be returning to Davis (Courtesy: Citrus Circuits media team). will be updating this story as more information becomes available. Latest update: March 12, 2020 at 5:28 p.m.

By Iris Harshaw, Allyson Kang and Clara Ault, Staff–

The suspension of the FIRST’s robotics season. The premature ending for the Speech and Debate team. The athletics update cutting off all off-season athletic programs.

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak worsens, many extracurricular programs have been canceled for the season and Davis school district events have been called off. Here are the current cancellations affecting Davis High:

Robotics season

Forty students from the Davis High robotics team flew to St. Louis for a regional robotics competition this week. On the first day, March 12, they were informed over a loudspeaker that the competition had been postponed due to coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns. 

“Our entire pit was set up. Everyone else’s pit was set up. The competition was started, and they went on the PA system, and they were like ‘get […] out’ […] we had a couple hours to do it’” junior Livy Taylor said.

The DHS robotics team, in addition to 40 others around the nation, has been preparing for the St. Louis regional over the course of the 2019-20 school year. 

Larry Cohen, president of FIRST, the robotics organization responsible for the tournament, announced in a later update today that the entire robotics season would be suspended.

“We have decided to suspend all season play across all Programs worldwide, effective immediately, including the cancellation of both FIRST Championship events,” the update read.

The robotics team members in St. Louis were originally scheduled to fly back to Davis this Sunday, but they have secured an earlier flight back for tomorrow afternoon.

Speech and Debate team

The Speech and Debate team, another popular extracurricular at DHS, has also ended its season prematurely.

Because tournaments are considered field trips, the team will not be allowed to travel to state competitions or try to qualify for nationals. The group will also not be holding its annual showcase, where members perform their best pieces for the Davis community.

“Everything I’ve been doing for the last month and a half-ish […] kind of went down the drain because of this policy […] I think they’re justified, for sure. It’s just kind of unfortunate and kind of frustrating,” said junior Anne Zhao, one of next year’s captains of the Speech and Debate team.

Athletics update

The Davis Joint Unified School District has chosen to continue all in-season sports practices until further notice, in accordance with the Yolo County Public Health Department, who advised “social distancing” to “save lives and slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community and to reduce the number of people infected,” Superintendent John Bowes wrote in a press release on March 11. 

Athletic Director John Lorenson sent an email to Blue Devil families on March 12, clarifying the Athletic Department’s response. Five measures are now in place from March 12 through April 30, including the complete cancellation of all off-season athletic programs.

Current games will start with a PA system reminder, if possible, about “social distancing.” Lorenson also encouraged streaming the games online to reduce the risk of community spread.

Furthermore, the rest of the mandates ask coaches to send any athletes showing symptoms, such as excessive coughing or fever, home immediately.

Senior swimmer Graham Segel sees why sports might be canceled but thinks it would be pointless if school isn’t canceled too.

“Of course it’s risky [but] it would be weird if they canceled swim and not school,” Segel said. 

Segel also points out how important practicing is for athletes. 

“I think that [for] a lot of sports you fall off really hard if you aren’t practicing especially with swimming. If you don’t go to swim practice for a week you might need like two weeks to get back to where you were,” Segel said. 

Junior Ishan Malik, a member of the DHS golf team, is happy his season is not being interrupted but is also alarmed by the fact that so many things have been canceled and DHS hasn’t followed suit.

“I’m glad they’re not canceled but I also think that it’s crazy [that] every pro league is canceled or postponed but our school is still open,” Malik said. “Like obviously sports leagues care a lot about athlete health and if they are being postponed I don’t see why school is still open.”

Both Segel and Malik are concerned about contracting the virus, whether it puts themselves in danger or a person who is more at risk of serious health consequences. 

“I’m not concerned about getting sick but I’m concerned about spreading it because I can take it but if I spread it to someone else who can’t that’s bad,” Segel said. 

“It’s apparently more contagious than the flu so it’s not unlikely for it to spread to our school. It’s also scary how little we know about it,” Malik said. 

Several sports events, including men’s lacrosse games and a track meet on March 13, have been cancelled entirely. For a list of DHS events that have been cancelled or are under consideration, see below.

Cancelled eventsContinuing/To be evaluated
Environmental Science field trip
Spring Fling dance
Youth in Government
New York journalism field trip
Washington/Canada band trip
Robotics competitions
Speech and Debate tournaments
Red Cross blood drive
SAT test (March 14)
“Clue” school play
Staff vs. students basketball game
Prom reporters for the coronavirus (COVID-19) story include Gabe Lee, Hannah Cho, Lindsey Su, Lyah Fitzpatrick, Renee Xiang, Allyson Kang and Clara Ault.

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