In the afternoon of March 10, an Instagram story post of an edited “High School Musical” promotional poster appeared on multiple students’ accounts, all sharing the same exact words: “R.I.P. 2020-2020.” These were created after the notice that the musical would have no additional showings due to the district’s new required actions regarding COVID-19.
At 2:08 p.m. the district issued new restrictions via the School Messenger email system, notifying all students, parents and staff that activities were canceled through April 12, effective immediately. The email outlined specific policies and changes based on Placer County Health Office recommendations for safety surrounding the spread of the novel Coronavirus.
This included guidelines on how to limit social interaction and the disease’s possible spread during school, as well as the cancellation or postponement of overnight trips, RUSD events and non-CIF sponsored athletic events.
Because students were in seventh period classes when the news broke, most didn’t know the situation until after school, including the cast of the musical.
In a Schoology group that included the show’s cast and crew, the announcement prompted multiple responses throughout the evening.
“I’m not blaming anybody at all, but it sucks we couldn’t switch casts nightly. Some seniors never even got to perform. It’s terrible. We’ve worked so hard and this was an opportunity to share that with people. The fact that we can’t reschedule is terrible. We’ve spent our own money on costumes and everything. We were at every rehearsal. It sucks. We’re always a family, though,” Nicole Granelli said.
With the split casting for lead roles, the second group of actors had been gearing up for their performance this week, as shows were scheduled for March 12-14. Now the entire cast has already had its final show, all without warning.
“[We] are better and this virus shouldn’t control us. Unfortunately, it does. I love every one of the seniors who will be missing out on their final shows. I love everyone for the first time who are forced to go without. I deeply am sorry to all of [the] amazing and talented actors and actresses. My sadness and anger will never be gone,” Michael Whiteside said.
The musical was only one of several major events impacted due to these new measures. This includes the cancelation of a spring dance and rally planned for March 20, the district-wide band concert March 17 featuring students from both middle schools and high schools, the Unified Sports basketball games, along with other extracurricular activities, including sports, band, ROTC, and as previously mentioned, the spring musical, all done to cut crowds and limit contact.
The district statement said, “The Placer County Health Department has declared that community mitigation is now in place, and recommendations have been made for social distancing in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect community health. Therefore, the Rocklin Unified School District is taking the actions outlined below. Generally, we are postponing, canceling, or modifying gatherings with large numbers of participants/spectators.”
Students expressed disappointment at the news, especially those who had invested time planning major activities.
“It’s unfortunate that [the district] is canceling all of the activities we are planning and putting our hearts and souls into, but they aren’t actually canceling school itself. We have worked so hard to plan these events as [a leadership] class. I understand a line had to be drawn limiting students from traveling and being in crowds, but I don’t understand why we are still showing up each day surrounded by the same kids whether those events were occurring or not. Chromebooks alone spread germs so quickly since hundreds of students use them every day,” ASB President Jack Grove said.
Ultimately, students are disappointed about their events and extracurriculars being canceled and don’t understand why, with all these precautions, school isn’t just canceled as well.
“[It’s] kind of hypocritical that they won’t let us have the rally because we’re in close proximity to other people, yet they won’t cancel class or lunch where people do the same thing? Stupid,” Grace McCollister said.
After the cancelation of yesterday’s jazz concert, Joseph Calderon feels as if the district’s actions, while understandable, are faulty.
“I feel like they’re doing too much, but at the same time not enough. I feel like if they’re going to ban any large gatherings of any kind, then they should also be prohibiting other things like school board meetings and just school in general. Why take precautionary measures if you’re not going to take them all?” Calderon said.
However, Dillon Murray feels that these regulations are for the better.
“I find people’s complaints over prom to be sickening, honestly. They cancel this stuff for safety. You want to put someone else at risk for your own gain?” Murray said.
On Abigail Root’s Instagram story, she shared her opinion that while students had a right to be angry about events being canceled, coronavirus is a serious issue, and precautions must be put in place to maintain the safety of students and limit the disease’s possible spread, and to not brush off these regulations as a product of hysteria.
Root said, “I am sorry that this impacted [many] and [their] ability to show off months of hard work, but please, do not peddle mistruths due to rage.”
As the school community continues to follow the situation, more information about the Placer County Health Department’s recommendations is linked here.