COVID-19 precautions create new challenges for Northwest ISD's annual Reindeer Romp

To avoid the crowded race routes of past years, NISD will let participants run the Reindeer Romp anywhere they want through Dec. 12. (Courtesy Northwest ISD)
To avoid the crowded race routes of past years, NISD will let participants run the Reindeer Romp anywhere they want through Dec. 12. (Courtesy Northwest ISD)

To avoid the crowded race routes of past years, NISD will let participants run the Reindeer Romp anywhere they want through Dec. 12. (Courtesy Northwest ISD)

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The Reindeer Romp is often an opportunity for students who are interested in running to get their families involved, according to Michelle Shilling, NISD assistant athletic director of health and physical education. (Courtesy Northwest ISD)
At the end of a year defined by COVID-19 precautions, Northwest ISD made the decision to turn the district's annual Reindeer Romp, a 5K race and one-mile fun run that benefits the physical education department, into a virtual event.

“Looking back on that decision, obviously, with the numbers that have continued to increase, that was the right decision,” said Michelle Shilling, NISD assistant athletic director of health and physical education.

As of Dec. 2, NISD has logged 612 COVID-19 cases across its campuses since Sept. 14, and 457 of those infected have recovered.

A virtual run means that participants can run anytime, anywhere during a certain time frame. The Reindeer Romp will continue through Dec. 12., and sign-ups for the event will remain open through Dec. 9, the day that participants can pick up their t-shirts and medals at the NISD Athletics Offices.

“It’s a guaranteed medal,” Shilling said. “Those are my favorite kind of 5Ks.”


NISD is not the only organization in Fort Worth playing it safe this year by letting runners choose their own courses. Participants in the Fort Worth YMCA Turkey Trot, an annual tradition, may run any day from Thanksgiving to the end of November.

Although the CDC considers outdoor events relatively safe, any event that brings together people from different households carries the risk of spreading COVID-19. Races come with their own challenges, such as keeping runners and spectators safely six feet apart. The more people involved, from runners to organizers, the greater the risk.

Not only does the $25 entrance fee support the NISD athletics program, Shilling said, the race is usually the end-of-semester event for running clubs at the district’s elementary schools. This year, though, those after-school clubs have been canceled due to COVID-19.
By Kira Lovell
Kira Lovell is a reporter covering Grapevine-Colleyville-Southlake and Keller-Roanoke-North Fort Worth. Before joining Community Impact, she majored in journalism at the University of Missouri and covered education and local arts for the Columbia Missourian and Vox Magazine.


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