Back in April Governor Inslee closed schools and cancelled sports across Washington state. Six months later, the state’s young athletes are eager to get back to competing.
At the beginning of September, Inslee announced a plan that allowed school sports to resume based on what reopening phase their county is in. For example, counties in phase two could meet and practice together. Counties in phase three could also play competitive games with limited crowd sizes.
Now the state and health officials approved new loosened restrictions to help reopen the state. The state also approved new COVID-19 restrictions for sporting activities that will help get school sports rolling again in a five-page plan.
To what degree a sport can be played depends on the combination of the COVID risk category for the county it takes place in. According to the five-page plan, it also depends on the risk category for the sport.
Sports were divided into three categories: low, medium, and high risk. Examples of low-risk sports are tennis, swimming, cross country and track and field. Examples of medium-risk sports include baseball, soccer, volleyball and lacrosse. High-risk sports include football, basketball, rugby and wrestling.
The five-page plan states many other factors will have to be in order to allow sports to resume including wearing face masks, enforcing social distancing and personal hygiene.
Face masks will be required for athletes directly before and after games. Paid staff such as coaches, trainers and referees will be required to always wear face masks. Spectators are also required to have face masks at all times.
The five-page plan also states that social distancing of 6 feet is required between staff and spectators (not including medical staff helping players) at all times. Social distancing is also to be enforced when teams are not engaged in sports activities. This means players must be 6 feet apart during huddles and team meetings.
Running start student and club soccer player Michael Alvarez said, “I’m just happy we’re moving towards playing against each other again. I love practicing with my teammates, but there’s nothing like getting out there and competing with them.”