Canby reopens athletics facilities under strict rules
In April, when Gov. Kate Brown closed schools through June 30, that included athletic facilities. Since that date has arrived, many schools, including Canby, will reopen athletic facilities Monday, July 6.
This means optional summer training for student athletes can begin.
But Canby is taking a cautious approach.
"The health and safety of our student athletes is at the forefront of everything we do," said Athletic Director Ben Winegar. "We want to provide opportunities for them to improve and get fit, preparing for future competitions, while following the most recent applicable guidelines for the safety of our students and staff."
According to Winegar, Canby will open its fields for school use only, with student athletes participating under coach supervision. During Phase 1, Canby will not utilize indoor facilities until the district has gathered the proper supplies for sanitization between groups. The facilities are not open to outside groups or community athletics programs such as youth sports.
And for those who are allowed to utilize the facilities, there will be many new protocols.
First of all, coaches must submit a specific sport plan that shows how they will function within guidance from the Oregon School Activities Association that was created based on recommendations from the Oregon Health Authority and National Federation of State High School Associations.
OSAA's detailed guidance outlines ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and contain any possible outbreaks.
Clackamas County remains in Phase 1, linked together with Multnomah and Washington counties when it comes to consideration for the next phase.
Under OSAA's Phase 1 guidance, gatherings are limited to 25 people. Even within those gatherings, athletes will be further grouped into pods of 10 or fewer with one coach per pod and minimal contact between pods. This will allow for easier contact tracing if necessary.
Staff will wear masks whenever possible; and it is recommended that students also wear masks when possible, like when they are not actively participating or cannot keep six feet of social distance.
Coaches will perform temperature and symptom checks on athletes daily. Athletes cannot share equipment including balls, bats, bags and everything else. Cleaning of facilities and equipment will take place in between uses. For OSAA's full Phase 1 guidance, visit https://bit.ly/3dN4Kmx.
Once the county enters Phase 2, sports gatherings can consist of up to 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors. But athletes will still be grouped into pods. At this point, indoor use of facilities and shared equipment will be allowed with sanitization consistent with Phase 2 guidelines. OSAA's full Phase 2 guidance can be found on the same webpage as above: https://bit.ly/3dN4Kmx.
While the guidance may seem restricting, Winegar made it clear that Canby can still achieve its summer goals.
"It truly is all about this…give athletes enough opportunity to improve, keep them connected, in shape and ready," Winegar said. "If we can do those things throughout the summer and we keep the hope for fall alive, we win. We win the summer."
Even without any in-person contact, Winegar said coaches have been connecting with student athletes.
"They're hosting Google Meet sessions. They're talking about what the athletes need to do to prepare," Winegar said. "Our football team is actually holding slideshows and everything like that, talking about the plays, keeping our kids mentally ready so they're mentally sharp once the season hopefully does come around."
And will that fall season come around?
No one knows yet.
Winegar said OSAA groups for each sport are meeting every other week to determine how guidelines affect the sport and how to work within them.
One idea is to swap fall and spring seasons so that more contact-heavy sports like football could be played later. Winegar expects a decision about the potential to swap by the end of July.
But the decision on fall sports will likely come later.
"I would anticipate with regards to fall sports, that decision will be made as late as possible," Winegar said. "We want to make sure to explore all avenues before they make that decision.
"The OSAA is doing a great job of weighing the pros and cons of all these decisions because the one thing they want to do more than anything is get kids back out there playing."
Winegar said he understands how difficult this pandemic is for young athletes who live to compete.
Even so, Canby will hold close to the guidance, which may help preserve the potential for fall sports.
"We're ready to go but at the same time, we've got to really tread cautiously and lightly because our actions that we do right now can truly have a big effect on our future outcomes," Winegar said. "All athletes have that same mentality — your daily action is what affects your future outcome…Kids need to be in shape and ready, but the last thing we want to do is jeopardize that future."
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