How will High School Sports Work in a Pandemic?

  • 2020-08-30, 05:00 AM (update 2020-09-03, 12:40 PM)
  • Viviane Ugalde
How will High School Sports Work in a Pandemic? File photo -- Ty O'Neil CCHS Marching Band during 2018-19 school year

How to return kids to school has been a major discussion of the School Board for quite some time, and with school starting Monday – hopefully – sadly, school sports will not be part of the school experience until later in the year.

On July 23, the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association created a sports schedule for 2021 that allows winter, fall, and spring sports to return safely, but pushes the seasons back several months. Winter sports will begin in January and end by February. Fall sports will be held from February to April, and Spring sports run from April to May. Each sports group would have six weeks of competition, and dates allowing practice roughly two weeks before the first days of competition. See the NIAA announcement here: NIAA COVID Adjustment.

The NIAA divided the sports into three risk levels: low risk sports that include individual sports, which were open for participation in Phase 2 of reopening. Moderate risk sports – like basketball, soccer, and baseball – are allowed in Phase 3 of reopening. The highest risk sports – like football, wrestling, and dance – will not be allowed until Phase 4 of reopening.

Brooke Hill, coach of the Freshman, Junior Varsity, and Varsity football teams said, “I believe this is definitely going to be a unique year. Each program will have to be flexible. We have had to adjust our practice schedule, along with any skill development drills to allow for distancing. Then, as the NIAA moved the fall sports season to next February, we adjusted again.”

According to the NIAA, a school that is closed to in-person instruction cannot compete in NIAA-sanctioned sports.

However, for those who can participate, face coverings are required for all participants and coaches, except when participants are swimming, distance running, or conducting high intensity aerobic activity.

Sandy Vanderbeek, coach of the Girls Varsity Golf team said, “I am happy that the NIAA and the school are taking precautions to help the students stay safe as possible. For golf, distancing is easy, and we can wear face masks when we’re inside or in vehicles.”

Coaches, also according to the NIAA, must have plans that include participant rotations through drill areas and weight rooms, conduct temperature checks on all players and coaches prior to workouts, and must keep a daily screening log that includes answers to these questions: “Do you have a cough? Do you have a sore throat? Do you have any shortness of breath? Have you been in close contact with someone with COVID? Have you travelled out of the state or country in the last 30 days?”

After following all protocols, and before playing, there may not be more than 10 people inside or 50 people outside a facility, which includes coaches and athletes. There also may be no huddles, handshakes, fist bumps, or helping other athletes up from the field.  Most importantly, there is no out of state travel or use of school district transportation vehicles.

“It will be a challenge to practice during the winter months. I am hoping the courses will be able to host tournaments in the winter – like Elko, Spring Creek, and Winnemucca – which may be under snow. I am thankful that there is a plan to get the athletes out to get at least some of the season played,” Coach Vanderbeek said.

These regulations will make high school students’ sports extremely different but does allow students to participate in extracurricular activities as safe as possible. Coaches from all risk levels of sports are watching their athletes persevere.

“As expected, the players have been outstanding. They have come with a strong work ethic and a great attitude. As you probably figure, they wish they were starting a full season. However, they understand the situation and have not allowed it to lessen their enthusiasm,” Coach Hill said.





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Viviane Ugalde



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