The Covid-19 pandemic has been going on for nearly a year now, but it appears there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Infection numbers have started to fall and multiple vaccines are starting to make their way to the general public.
With the improved approach to battling the virus, local schools have ramped up efforts to re-open for in-person schooling, and much debate has been had about the ability to start sports back up as well.
Multiple professional sports are currently playing, and young kids around the country are hoping to get back on the field of play as well.
On Wednesday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown took the first steps to allow that to happen, announcing that the Oregon Health Authority will be revising its guidance for outdoor sports. “This has been a difficult year for Oregon’s youth athletes and, as our COVID-19 numbers have dropped, I have been committed to working with our health experts to reevaluate our protocols for sports,” said Governor Brown. “School sports play an important role in fostering students’ mental, emotional, and physical health. We will proceed with caution, to ensure that teams are following health and safety precautions to protect our athletes, their families, and their communities.”
According to the official press release, "Beginning this week, outdoor contact sports will be permitted to resume with health and safety protocols in place based on county risk level. In Lower Risk and Moderate Risk counties, practices and games for outdoor contact sports, including high school football, can resume following health and safety guidance to be issued by the Oregon Health Authority. In High Risk and Extreme Risk counties, where COVID-19 remains more widespread, schools and other sports organizations can opt-in to resuming outdoor contact sports with additional protocols in place. In such counties, sports organizations must offer on-site responsive testing for symptomatic individuals and close contacts, contact information for contact tracing, and a waiver identifying health and safety risks and a commitment to isolation and quarantine if exposed to COVID-19. Schools in Extreme and High-Risk counties wishing to opt-in for outdoor contact sports must meet the requirements for sports organizations above, and must also have at least limited in-person instruction occurring, with the goal of achieving hybrid or full in-person instruction for students this school year. Schools must also be in compliance with state guidance for COVID-19 testing."
Schools that are currently in High and Extreme Risk counties that do not "opt-in and implement the protocols and requirements" will only be able to participate in non-contact sports.
Indoor contact sports remain prohibited. Said Governor Brown, “To all of Oregon’s high school athletes: I am asking you now to be leaders in your communities. We’ve given you the chance to play, but with that opportunity comes great responsibility. If COVID-19 numbers spike, we may have to shut down contact sports again. When you are off the field, set the example for your peers: wear a mask, maintain physical distance, and avoid social gatherings. It is not lost on me that this decision today will allow high school football to resume, when too many high school classrooms across Oregon remain empty. To all the parents of student-athletes and coaches who have called and emailed me in the last year asking for school sports to resume, I am challenging you now to devote your energy to making sure in-person academics can resume for your kids, too." You can find more information and read the full press release here.