Varsity lacrosse player Giselle Khalil has been unable to attend her team’s daily practices on account of remaining unvaccinated for COVID-19. She said her parents are worried about side-effects she may experience from the vaccine.
“They think I might have some sort of allergy towards the vaccine,” said Khalil, a junior. “I tried to make an appointment with an allergist, but they said I wouldn’t have an appointment until late October or early November.”
As the country remains impacted by the pandemic, COVID-19 is changing how the athletics program at Birmingham Community Charter High School and elsewhere in Los Angeles are being conducted. Student-athletes undergo COVID testing twice a week, wear masks during practice and games and had to have their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 3. Students who haven’t been vaccinated aren’t allowed to practice with their teammates. BCCHS’ safety protocols are similar to the mandates that the Los Angeles Unified School District implemented to ensure that the student-athletes, coaches and staff are safe on campuses. Masks have been made a requirement for practices as well as inter-league matchups. In order to receive clearance to play against teams from other high schools, students and coaches are required to test negative prior to the matchup.
In September, the LAUSD Board of Education approved a vaccination mandate for all students 12 and older to secure the continuation of in-person learning and student participation in organized sports.
“Every year has its own challenges, but nothing compares to the COVID years,” BCCHS Athletic Director Rick Prizant said in an email. “For example, this week we had to cancel a football game and find a new opponent.”
As for Khalil, she remains hopeful of becoming vaccinated and eligible to play lacrosse before the start of the season this coming spring. On the other hand, one of Khalil’s Lacrosse teammates, junior Medrano deals with an entirely different source of frustration rooted from the continuation of high school athletics. Medrano expressed that she has become aggravated with the enforcement of face masks during practice.
“I think the most challenging part is just adjusting to playing with a face mask on,” Medrano said. “We are constantly yelling in practice so having to be 10 times louder puts an uncomfortable amount of strain on our voice. It is beyond frustrating.”