Following a school year that saw extracurricular sports crippled due to health restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, student athletes can look forward to what is poised to be a robust fall of activities.
BC School Sports has at last been given the green light from the Provincial Health Authority to proceed with a full slate of regular activity with some safety measures still in place. The 2020/21 school year saw extracurricular sports as just training among cohort groups.
Masks will still be required for all team personnel, athletes and officials when they are not participating in a high intensity activity. Equipment such as water bottles cannot be shared among the athletes and it has been recommended to hold all activities outside when possible. That doesn’t mean some indoor sports, such as volleyball, won’t proceed.
The Optimist reached out to longtime South Delta Secondary athletic director Brent Sweeney to find out what students and parents can expect in the weeks ahead. Sweeney also happens to be the vice-present of BC School Sports.
Will all sports programs be up-and-running this fall?
Sweeney: Obviously it depends on (potential) changes that we have become so used to over the last year-and-half or so but everyone is planning for leagues and for tournaments as long as they meet the stipulations set up the Provincial Health Office, the ministry and local health authorities. Everyone is excited. The kids are anxious to get back to it. To have meaningful practices and scrimmages again. We are turning the corner and we just hope we don’t go back.
What will league play look like? Will it be back to regular South Fraser (zone) play or will schools be in limited cohort groups within their own district? Will there will be provincial championships come November and early December?
Sweeney: We are proceeding with a normal South Fraser schedule. There will be no cohorts or anything like that. It’s all subject to regulations and we are still at stage three of the (provincial) re-opening plan. We can travel within and out of our region if we want. If we were hosting a senior girls volleyball tournament, a team from Kelowna can come and play. A team from Victoria can come play. Certainly the planning for provincial championships is on and the expectation is we are going to have them but, again, it’s all subject to what the situation is as we move through the fall.
What about spectators for indoor sports such as volleyball? We know masks will be required at all times, however, will parents or students be allowed to enter a school if they are from outside the district or community?
Sweeney: That is something that hasn’t been entirely answered yet. The provincial government is putting it onto individual districts to make the call. Vaccine passports aren’t required to teach or attend school but can a 15-year-old unvaccinated student go to another school to watch a game? I would like to see spectators would have to prove their vaccination to come in (to a school) as it provides a safer experience for the students, staff officials and those who are vaccinated.