Feature Image above by Christina Kong (Follow her on Instagram @xtinashootss)
This has been a troubling time for everyone. Schools have been closed, jobs have been lost, and we have been in a shelter in place order since mid March. With most of the country reopening, and KRON 4 reporting that San Francisco announced today that they are going to go into phase 2B which allows:
- Hair salons and barber shops
- Nail salons
- Tattoo salons
- Outdoor bars
- Outdoor swimming
Phase 2C has a projected timeline of July 13. That’s when indoor dining and real estate open houses with appointments would resume.
Phase 3 is not projected until August at the very earliest or later.
It raises the question of when kids should come back to workout with their peers and teammates. Kids are not at a high risk for contracting the disease, as the CDC says on their website. They also recommend that they go outside and be physically active. “Encourage your child to play outdoors—it’s great for physical and mental health.” As stated on the CDC website.
Now, most high schools are returning to workouts in a modified format. Guidelines provided by the county recommend no more than 10-12 kids be together during the same time, so teams have to do their workouts in different sessions.
All schools are trying to figure things out, but Santa Rosa City Schools are in an interesting spot. The school district has allowed their schools to put on workouts, but are not allowing them on their own district property. In other words, schools are not allowed to use their own facilities for workouts. Instead, schools and coaches have been scrambling to find public parks to rent and gain a permit in order to hold workouts for their team.
Perhaps the most frustrating is in Petaluma. The school district has not approved Petaluma and Casa Grande High Schools to return to any team workouts at all. Both have been doing workouts and meetings via Zoom.
“We are the only district that does not have a start date. I’m appreciative of the rules and the people working for the district that things are done the right way,” said Casa Grande Head Football Coach John Antonio, “To be one of the last schools to get approval is really frustrating. Sports aren’t the only thing, but we have had parents ask every day about why other schools are practicing and we aren’t. I’m doing my best to update them as much as I can. I just want to be able to provide a safe, controlled environment while being together as a program.”
Antonio had submitted a plan to the school to get going again, but was denied. His plan included staggering entrances, and start times in groups of 10. Questionnaire and temperature check. Bring their own water, social distancing, with an additional 4 feet, so 10 feet total.
Another interesting point to make is both the Petaluma and Casa Grande track and fields have been open for public use.
“Summer workouts have been weird and not as fun because we are doing them at home and not being able to workout as a team has been difficult for me. I see the same from my teammates,” said Petaluma multi sport athlete Ivan Cortes. “We’ve been checking in on each other through a group chat and making sure everyone is doing their workouts we have been assigned and making sure we are staying safe.”
Casa Grande and Petaluma remain hopeful they will begin soon, with the district looking over plans this week, hoping to gain approval, but still are not holding any workouts in person.
Most other schools that have returned are using their own facilities in accordance with health guidelines.
“It’s been frustrating and stressful to find another park to workout in. We are starting tomorrow and we are the last team in our league to get going.” said Piner Head Football Coach Terrance Bell.
He and his program are anxious to get going, but recognized that the time away from school was important too.
“I check in with my players, but I feel it is important to spend time with family during this time. We were not doing any Zoom meetings or workouts. They’re usually in workouts and passing leagues during the late spring and summer normally, so I felt a need to let them be with their families as much as they could before we were able to get going.” Bell said.
Coaches have enough to deal with in a normal time with fundraising, administrative duties, scheduling, etc., and now have to deal with a global pandemic and input social distancing, mask wearing, sanitizing and so much more to do at a public facility.
Windsor AD Jamie Williams announced that Windsor Football and Cheer would begin workouts today. “We’ve polled where our families are in Windsor and if they would allow their students to participate if we open, the overwhelming response was yes! We have guidelines, waivers and pre-participation forms required, daily check in sheets and handouts in preparation to begin. The community of athletic directors has been so supportive and we all know the risks involved but more than that we know our students can benefit so much getting back out there even if it’s in small groups.”
She went on to say “The reality is this is all new for everybody so we stay alert, follow guidelines, and know we have to put 1 foot in front of the other. Plans are fluid as guidelines from County Health changes and information comes from CIF.”
The players have also gone through a lot. There have been disruptions in fall and winter sports since 2017, with fires, bad air quality, power shut offs, and now the spring sports affected by the pandemic. It could help the morale of the community, and especially the student athletes if they were able to be back with their team and coaches. Many athletes have already been working out on their own, with some of their teammates. Why not make it a team event under the proper protocols?
The Press Democrat reported that Santa Rosa City Schools funded three of their high schools for new sports facilities over the past 3-4 years. In September of 2016, these projects were approved:
Montgomery High School Field replaced in 2018-2019, no exact cost to be found.
Piner High School stadium lights and improvements: $2 million.
Maria Carrillo High School stadium improvements: $3 million.
With all of these brand new facilities in place, why are they not being put to use? It’s a way for kids under the age of 18, who are one of the lowest risk to contract the virus, to return to some sense of normalcy. At least being on your school campus, you can control who comes in and out of the field, not at a public park. Public parks first began to open up on April 29th, according to the Sonoma County Regional Parks website. How come athletic fields aren’t open for team activities in a controlled environment? With all the modern school field sites and obstacles for the coaches it seems fair to let them use their own field.
It is also not a level playing field, especially for football. The NCS, and CIF released guidelines for return to sports, and you can read the CIF guidelines here, but no budge from the schools as far as working out at their own facilities in Santa Rosa. When does it become too much of an advantage if one school has had days, weeks, and even a month’s worth of workouts more than you have? Offseason workouts are vital in a sport like football.
From Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas:
The following is a summary of return to sport guidance and best practices. Facilities, teams, coaches and families must acknowledge there are risks of return to sport during the continued COVID-19 pandemic.
We recommend following the state and local governing bodies with regards to their phased approach to social gatherings and physical distancing.
If athletes, coaches, staff, officiates, school participants and spectators are feeling sick or ill, they should not attend practice or competition.
We recommend a phased approach or gradual return to sport in order to allow athletes to get back into shape, tolerate the heat and decrease their risk of injury.
Athletes, coaches, fans/spectators and officiates should undergo screening using symptom checklists and temperature check with a thermometer before each practice or competition. Asking if in the past 48 hours they have experienced:
Fever over 100.0
New or worsening cough
Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
Sore throat, different than your seasonal allergies
New loss of smell or taste
Diarrhea, vomiting or nausea
Muscle or body aches or fatigue
There are kids and coaches who may have underlying conditions, and coaches who may be older than 65 years old. Obviously, this is all contingent of the health and safety of those people, but with the proper safety measures in place including social distancing, wearing masks, not sharing items like water bottles, put in place, it can create a safe environment for those who want to come back to sports. Summer workouts are not mandated by coaches, rather they are reccomended.
North Bay Basketball Academy came back to Mini Summer Camps on June 8th, when guidelines were provided. They operate out of Sonoma, Marin, and Napa county, so they have a difficult time keeping up with the different county requirements, but are running camps in all three counties. They’ve been running three week camps, with 12 kids per group, five days a week for two hours a day. Protocols NBBA has included are temperature screening, bringing their own basketball and water bottles, sanitizing their basketball and hands before beginning camp, and keeping social distancing. NBBA has been limited to just one coach during each session, and has kept the same coach and kids together over the three week period.
“We will start to offer one week camps soon, since it will provide more flexibility for the kids and parents to work with,” said NBBA Director of Business Development Brock Winter. “We’ve had good turnouts at our camps, and we are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe. We want to give families an opportunity for their kids to be active and social with other kids for a few hours a day.”
“We have cones and markers to make sure we are socially distancing and staying safe. We haven’t had to turn anyone away due to symptoms yet, which has been good.” Winter said.
President and CEO of NBBA Rick Winter said in a Marin Independent Journal Article last week “There will be no scrimmaging and no playing defense which for some of the kids, that might be frustrating…..We’re fully expecting the kids going through this program to come out as far better basketball players.”
All in all, we should be allowing these student athletes the option to come back to their workouts after being cooped up in their homes for a few months. With the right guidelines and protocols in place, it can and should be done at their school facilities, where everyone can feel some sense of normalcy.
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