By Luke Shimer, staff writer
At this point Maria Carrillo High School still plans on having a full season of each of the fall sports typically offered, but if cases spike or the pandemic gets worse, this might not happen. Some of the precautions being put in place are wearing masks at all times, being socially distanced and temperature checks to make sure everyone is safe.
Although sports seasons have been delayed by the California Interscholastic Federation, they have recently announced that all sports plan to start in the second semester. While sports seasons are on track to begin, however, there will likely be limits on the number of spectators at sporting events.
According to MCHS’s Athletic Director Jerry Deakins, “I could see a situation, if sports were to be green lighted, where crowd sizes would be reduced or capped; the district would have to weigh the viral outbreak within the community and follow guidelines established by Dr. Sundari Mase, County Health Officer.” Nothing yet has been discussed by the school district on that topic.
When it comes to the safety of the athletes, Deakins said that the district has hired Kateland Weighall as a COVID Coordinator, who will work with district athletic trainers to help coaches and athletes start training. Weighall coordinates and collaborates with the Department of Public Health, developing protocols for any in-person meetings, work or other activities on our district’s campuses. She also helps to implement safety measures and provide COVID-related education for our teachers, staff, students and families.
“I have worked with the high school athletic trainers, athletic directors, and other administrators to develop a plan that prioritizes student and staff safety, while also allowing our student-athletes to begin conditioning,” said Weighall. “Some simple protocols have been issued to help minimize the spread of the virus as we begin to increase interaction.” According to Weighall, these could include social distancing, not sharing equipment, wearing masks and daily health screenings. Athletic trainers will be teaching these protocols to the coaches and athletes before they start practices. If coaches and student athletes submit all the necessary forms, they may also begin conditioning very soon. Students who sign this form will be placed in a pod of no more than 16 people, and each pod will have a designated bathroom, no shared equipment and a mask requirement. There will be no mingling between pods, and there will be staggering time for pods to get on and off campus.
An issue with the system of pods is football. Coach Jay Higgins stated that “with about 90 students normally participating, that would be working in close quarters every day in preparation to meet other programs and officiating crews on Friday nights. Distancing is simply not possible. Symptoms checks and temperature recording may be considered even though 45 percent of those infected are completely asymptomatic.”
Tryouts will happen if sports do take place and will be held with full contact, but will still encourage athlete safety. This year will still have state championships and NCS championships if sports will be played. Since there are usually three sports seasons in fall, winter, and spring, all sports will be pushed into winter and spring. A big issue with this is facility use with teams practicing for overlapping events and many teams playing and practicing at the same time. This would limit the time teams have to practice and get ready for games.
At this point in the school year and with COVID-19, sports are still up in the air. The safety of the players is the school district’s highest priority and if they feel that it’s not safe for the athletes then they will be able to cancel the seasons.
Deakins stated, “The pandemic may dictate changes to even the best made plans, and everything may need adjusting as we progress forward.“