We’re in a pandemic; close the basketball courts

September 9, 2020 — by Kaitlyn Tsai

On Sept. 3, The Falcon posted a photo on Instagram with the caption “Photo of the week: Students are enjoying their free time by playing basketball on the school courts. One student attempts to block the opposing team’s shot.” The students depicted in the photo were not wearing masks or keeping a social distance.

The post quickly garnered attention, reaching over 150 likes in less than a day and receiving comments like “RIP social distance” and “Y’all I’m tryna go to school next semester.”

 Concerned that the photo and its caption would reinforce the behavior depicted and reflect poorly on the school, members of ASB reached out to The Falcon and raised concerns about the post. 

But the photo remains for several reasons.

The Falcon’s duty is to report on school and local events, regardless of how well it reflects on the school. We have covered a range of far more serious topics that have tainted the school’s image (for instance, the sexual assault charges against former choir director Andrew Ford), because readers deserve to know about these issues. 

While some may have felt the words “Photo of the Week” and “enjoying” in the caption subtly condoned playing basketball without wearing masks or social distancing, the caption only described what the picture showed. And to be clear, The Falcon’s photos of the week do not endorse what they depict; they simply document what happens at or around the school. 

To prevent further misunderstanding, however, The Falcon modified the caption to “Students spend their free time by playing basketball on the school courts, which have remained open throughout shelter-in-place.”

In publishing this photo, The Falcon merely sheds light on a problem with the school’s handling of COVID-19: People are behaving unsafely on the courts, which were opened during the summer. But those who aren’t part of the basketball team shouldn’t be allowed to play on the courts, especially if there aren’t any regulations. Instead of concerning themselves with The Falcon’s post, this is what ASB should work with the school to reform. 

As long as the courts remain open, people will play on them; even when they’re locked, some scale the fences and unlock it from the inside. And as long as the school doesn’t implement any hard policies on safely using these courts, people won’t follow pandemic-safe practices, especially given the sweaty, high-contact nature of basketball. 

This also extends to the football field and the parking lot, where students have gathered without social distancing throughout shelter-in-place. 

If district and school leaders want to take COVID-19 seriously, they should close the basketball courts and track area and monitor them, as well as the parking lot, more closely. Encouraging students to report unsafe behavior and establishing disciplinary action for breaking social distancing rules would also alleviate this problem.

As expressed in some of the comments on The Falcon’s post, students long for the day they can finally return to in-person school. Keeping the basketball courts open will continue risking the spread of the virus and slowing our chances of returning to the school we all dearly miss — and this will be the case regardless of what photos The Falcon publishes.


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Photo of the week

Due to the lightning complex that occurred in the week of Aug.17, Santa Clara County is currently surrounded by wildfires, covering the city of Saratoga in heavy smoke. The air quality was in the range of 100 to 200 for the past five days, forcing SHS to close down. Photo by Selina Chen.


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