While in the middle of a global pandemic, many things have changed regarding all aspects of life. Whether it comes to your education, job, or social life, the coronavirus has left almost nothing untouched. Schools are one of the places that are suffering the most at the moment with the beginning of the educational year already behind us. For them, there is a constant struggle to maintain a sense of community while also keeping their staff and students safe. Cherished events such as football games and school dances are at risk of being lost in schools across the country, and as we know for FTHS specifically, football games have already been reserved for participants and their families only. Whether you’re a student, teacher, or anyone who lives in Freehold, we have already felt the effects of these losses as a community, but few of us have seen this issue from the perspective of the people making these decisions. I got the opportunity to speak with FTHS’ Supervisor of Extracurricular Activities, Mr. Brusotti, about his job and the decisions he has had to make thus far.
One of the most recent decisions made regarding extra curriculars was not letting any spectators at football games with the exception of the family members of participants. Concerning this decision, Brusotti stated, “Varsity football games are the most attended sporting event we have at the school. However, the state of NJ currently has an Executive Order in effect that limits outdoor gatherings, like a varsity football game, to 500 people. Without restrictions, we would easily surpass that executive order and we cannot risk being non-compliant. So, we determined we could let in two family members per participant on our side while still affording the visiting team an opportunity to have fans attend; which is an NJSIAA regulation.”.
As for school clubs, the advisors are allowed to invite members to virtual meetings, and as long as these clubs continue to be active and meet periodically, they are able to keep running. Many students are also left wondering what other traditional student events’ fates will be, like homecoming, prom, senior for hire, etc. According to Mr. Brusotti, the school is in the process of “making multiple plans for each event to ensure that we are following the CDC, DOH and state guidelines.”.
When asked how the duties of his position as Supervisor of Extracurricular Activities changed from before COVID and now, he responded, “The biggest change is being mindful of the new protocols regarding COVID. The entire situation is very fluid so the protocols and recommendations from the CDC and DOH change often and it is important to know when they do so that any potential situation is handled correctly.”. Setting guidelines for and cancelling certain school events leaves him with some very difficult decisions to make, considering dealing with a pandemic is new for almost everyone. I asked how students can help make this process easier or be more understanding of the tough position he is in, and he suggested that we try to understand the “larger picture” in regards to things we are all dealing with during this pandemic, while also adhering to the CDC and DOH guidelines.