SEATTLE, WA — Most of Washington's school districts have announced that they will resume remotely next month and have canceled their fall sports programs.
That's unfortunate news for young athletes in the short-term, but it may be possible for some sports to safely resume soon, according to the University of Washington.
“Right now in King County, we don’t have the public health approval to move forward with sports that require contact,” said Dr. Jonathan Drezner, director of the UW Medicine Center for Sports Cardiology.
Similar restrictions are in place in all Phase 2 counties, including Pierce and Snohomish, so soccer, volleyball, basketball and football are all off-limits across the Puget Sound.
However, there are a few sports that could safely resume while still following state coronavirus guidance, according to Drezner. That would include sports with fewer players crowded together like golf, cross-country running, and tennis. It's also possible that some team sports could still practice, as long as they take safety precautions and only meet in small groups.
But, to do so Drezner says teams will likely need to consider five important factors:
Mask usage: all teammates should wear masks going to and from practices, as well as during practice if they're close to other players or teammates.
How to enforce physical distancing: while exercising, athletes should have around 10 to 12 feet of personal space.
Recognizing the symptoms: adults, parents, coaches and even athletes themselves will need to be able to quickly spot and report any COVID-19 symptoms, and stay away from practice if they exhibit any themselves.
Considering logistics: carpools are likely out for now, and busses to take teams to and from away games may also be unavailable, meaning parents and teams will likely have to work out alternative transportation plans.
What rules will be in place at practice: how do coaches keep kids from mingling and possibly transmitting the disease before and after practice, and how can they be kept apart while running drills.
“The general question is this: What is the club’s plan for practicing safely?” Drezner said.
That might be a lot to consider at once, but if teams can do it, young athletes may be able to make it back onto the field sometime soon.