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District restricts all athletics after player tests positive for COVID-19, governor issues new orders

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Lakeridge senior captains (from left) Cooper Justice, Kai Tinker, Caiden Biege-Wetherbee and Jalen John were all honored on Three Rivers League all-star teams for 2019., Lake Oswego Review - Sports LO seniors Filkins and Shanks named POY for 2019 season Lake Oswego, Lakeridge football see 41 honored on all-Three Rivers League teams

Monday was a big day for high school sports in Lake Oswego — not because games or practices took place, but because they might not for quite some time. After a Lakeridge football player tested positive for COVID-19, exposing athletes from both Lakeridge and other area high schools, coaches were already making plans to postpone summer practice. Gov. Kate Brown's press conference later that day led to the district wide decision to put all athletic activity on hold until Clackamas County enters Phase 2 of the reopening process.

"In light of the Governor's press conference earlier today, we made a decision to suspend all practices until possibly Clackamas County enters Phase 2," LOSD Athletic Director Nathan Stanley said in an email to the Review.

"Who knows how long that'll be," he added in an interview.

Lakeridge football coach Spencer Philips and the Lakeridge lacrosse coach Curt Sheinin made their own decisions to postpone practices until Clackamas County went into Phase 2 after a football player tested positive for the virus.

"Independent of the district and the school, it was brought to my attention that players from several high schools had been practicing football on their own, including some of our Lakeridge players (one of whom) tested positive," Philips said.

Sheinin would have had lacrosse conditioning start July 14, but rolled it back in conjunction with Philips.

"We share a number of athletes with football," he said, adding there were around 15 students involved in both sports. "We definitely agreed with the football coach that we should postpone practices."

The decision to practice during Phase 1 was made after realizing Phase 2 — the point at which they initially intended to start practices — could be a long way off. Now, they've circled back to that decision for the safety of their players.

"The safety of the kids is the most important and I think the district is handling this extremely well," Sheinin said. "We're all just in a waiting game."

In her press conference Monday, July 13, Brown tightened Phase 1 restrictions, asking people to wear masks outdoors when 6 feet of physical distance cannot be met and limiting indoor gatherings to no more than 10 people.

Sports teams were already trying to work within the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) health and safety recommendations which included physical distancing and not allowing students to share equipment.

Brown's added restrictions make it nearly impossible to practice a sport. Is it really football practice if the players wear a mask, remain six feet apart and don't share a ball?

Stanley said it's not just LOSD that's making hard choices to implement the governor's guidance. He said athletic directors across the state are grappling with if and how they can adhere to new requirements and still play ball.

The question on the minds of many: will LOSD have sports this school year?

"I'm hoping that we will, I think we have to take each season as it comes," Sheinin said.

Stanley said what's most in jeopardy right now is the fall sports season.

"The most important thing is that we do everything we can to preserve the fall sports season," he said. "We're hoping that we can have a fall sports season."

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