Student-athletes at Palo Alto High School are required to test negative for COVID-19 in order to practice or play in games, according to a Thursday morning email from Athletic Director Nelson Gifford.

Amid mounting concern about rising coronavirus cases and the Omicron variant, Gifford instructed student-athletes to submit the results of either rapid antigen or PCR tests yesterday to team coaches. 

Athletes who test positive must follow Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, which include a minimum five day quarantine, Gifford stated, and a return to practice under the conditions of being asymptomatic and submitting a negative PCR test. Otherwise, their quarantine would extend to 10 days.

The boys basketball team has been hit with multiple coronavirus cases in recent weeks, creating a rocky start to its season, as many practices and games have been cancelled. 

We started with about 14 to 15 players, and now our couple of practices in the last few weeks have had about eight or seven players,” junior and varsity basketball player Jackson Martin said. “I think we have around five positive tests, and not only does it dwindle the numbers but it also kills our morale.”

Martin mentioned the effect that recent coronavirus spread has had on practices. 

“It [Omicron] has brought our team morale down a bit and there’s definitely something that we’re trying to improve, coming out of this. … We’re just trying to make the best of what we can,” Martin said. 

Junior and soccer player Issac Kirby expressed a similar sentiment. 

“It [soccer season] has definitely been really disappointing,” Kirby said. “All the canceled games and canceled practices, people getting infected. But overall, no one’s really getting extremely sick. … It sucks, but it’s just an obstacle that we have to overcome.”


We started with about 14 to 15 players, and now our couple of practices in the last few weeks have had about eight or seven players. I think we have around five positive tests, and not only does it dwindle the numbers but it also kills our morale.” 

— Jackson Martin, junior


The varsity girls’ soccer team has not had confirmed coronavirus cases since beginning practices, according to freshman soccer player Ella Hwang. Hwang praised the effort to increase testing among student athletes.

“A lot of us are worried that it’s [coronavirus] going to be spread around our team and we’re not going to be able to play and be safe,” Hwang said. “I think it’s good for people to be testing to confirm that we don’t have any positive cases on our team.”

Gifford encouraged athletes to keep up with the testing and commended athletes for staying safe and showing school spirit.

“I know we are all tired of working through this, but it is always better when we can do it together,” Gifford wrote. “We are all in the same boat, traveling in the same direction, and I — and the Paly community — appreciate you doing your part.”