A Covid Flareup on the Girls Varsity Basketball Team Spurs Potomac’s Rapid Covid Response Team into Action


Susie Shaffer

Potomac’s Varsity Basketball Team poses at Spangler in a Relaxed Moment

Audrey Lee, Mina Bahadori, and Ethan Norton

With winter break just around the corner, Potomac’s student body is scrambling to understand what a recent Covid-19 flare means for us. Much of students’ concerns stems from the school’s policy of maintaining privacy of sick individuals by not identifying them, as legally required. An email sent last night by Head of the Upper School Mr. Doug McLane informed families about two suspected positive rapid tests, but the ambiguous language left confusion among the student body.

More clarification of the school’s Covid situation has come from players on the Girls Varsity Basketball team and further clarification of the contact tracing process has come from conversations with administration. One player, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said everything began on Thursday, December 9th when the Athletic Director emailed the team revealing that someone on the team tested positive for Covid-19. None of the players were identified as close contacts. 

Mr. McLane clarified both in email and in person, “We abide by the CDC guidelines for the definition of a close contact, defined as those who are believed to have been within three to six feet of the sick individual for a period of 15 minutes or longer over a 24-hour period.” 

The players on the team were all administered a rapid-antigen test before participating in the She Got Game Classic on Friday, December 10. They advanced in the tournament, playing again on Saturday, December 11. Although the players were all rapid-antigen tested, a player we interviewed on condition of anonymity explained that some of the athletes were confused why they were not considered close contacts and thought they should have been. 

On Monday, December 13th, every member of the girls basketball team was pulled from advisory and brought to the blackbox for rapid-antigen testing after a player on our Girls Varsity Basketball team tested positive for Covid-19 on a rapid test. Our source told us that it was very confusing and led to a great deal of anxiety for these athletes.

“Half the people didn’t have their phones, and there was no cell reception so we couldn’t call our parents or our friends.” The students were then brought to the East Building lobby for already scheduled surveillance PCR tests and sent home. Awaiting these test results, the members of the team who receive a negative PCR test can return to in-person classes as long as they receive a negative rapid-antigen test that morning.

The player expressed positive support for the school’s handling of the situation on Monday the 13th. As the school and student body navigate the health and safety of our community, Mr. McLane shared, “We are very invested first and foremost in the safety of every single community member. That is our top priority. And we want to make sure that if a student is not feeling well, they get the care, isolation, and attention that they need. There is no consideration of Potomac going virtual right now. Our mitigation plans, such as mandating vaccination for participation in co-curricular activities, masking, and surveillance testing, are working. If a player needs to be in quarantine for any particular reason, our students can be supported through hybrid learning.” 

The player agreed, stating her opinion that “I know a lot of parents are pretty frustrated with the whole situation considering we want to have a season and we want to be as safe as possible doing it.” As we reach the home stretch of winter break and upon our return to campus, it is important the Upper School continues to diligently wear masks in order to keep our community safe.