Timeline: COVID-19 athletics guidelines

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Douglas Richardson

Sports have been in full swing since the start of the school year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Portland Public Schools (PPS) has had to constantly update their athletics guidelines and procedures to ensure the safety of athletes.

Keira Saavedra

Throughout the pandemic, Portland Public Schools (PPS) has had to constantly update their athletics guidelines and procedures to ensure the safety of athletes. Lincoln’s athletic director, Jessica Russell, has helped to keep track of all the changes made to the guidelines.

“Priority needs to go to students having the most normal experience as possible, including going to school full time, and participating in whatever extracurriculars they want to full time,” Russell said. “But with the caveat that I want everyone to be safe and healthy.”

Below is a timeline outlining the changes that have been made to PPS athletics guidelines since the summer of 2021.

 

Aug. 24, 2021 — the beginning of the fall sports season: 

On Aug. 24, PPS holds a meeting with every high school athletic director to review the COVID-19 guidelines they plan to implement for the fall sports season. Little did athletes know, the guidelines would change almost every week, making it difficult to keep track of what they were. 

At this meeting, PPS decides that indoor sports will require masks, while masks will not be required at outdoor ones. During competition or practice, if you are not actively participating, you are required to wear a mask, regardless of location. This applies to players on the bench, coaches, injured players and team managers. Coaches are required to be vaccinated, spectators are required to be wearing a mask at all times and all concession stands are closed. 

Sept. 8, 2021

On Sept. 8, athletic directors host a second meeting. They decide that guidelines will remain relatively the same. All schools’ athletic directors are given posters to enforce these athletic guidelines at competitions. The district also recommends coaches take a photo of the seating arrangements on buses when traveling to competitions to help with contact tracing and prevent the whole bus from having to quarantine if someone tests positive for COVID-19. 

Sept. 15, 2021 

On Sept. 15, athletic directors have their third meeting. The guidelines are still the same, with PPS introducing the rule that visiting schools are required to abide by PPS athletic guidelines while on school property. The home schools are expected to send visiting schools the guidelines to inform them in advance. Opening concessions stands is now optional. 

Oct. 13, 2021 

On Oct. 13, athletic directors have their fourth meeting. PPS now requires all volunteers, employees and officials to be vaccinated. This leads to many issues with shortages of officials and volunteers at sporting events. Competitions cannot be held without officials, so many sports games, mostly football, have to be postponed or location of games must be changed, which creates inconvenience for many athletes.

Oct. 18, 2021 

On Oct. 18, athletic directors have their fifth meeting. All visitors and spectators are required to show proof of vaccination at all athletic events, indoors and outdoors, and all PPS employees are required to be fully vaccinated, with some exceptions for medical or religious reasons. Proof of vaccination is only required for those ages 12 and up, reflecting vaccine eligibility.  

Oct. 27, 2021 

On Oct. 27, athletic directors have their sixth meeting. There are no policy changes for team travel by the district, but teams begin getting travel approval by the school board. Travel is allowed by the PPS athletic department, but travel has yet to be approved by the board.

Nov. 3, 2021 

On Nov. 3, athletic directors have their seventh meeting, and there are some major changes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved vaccination for ages five and above on Nov. 2, 2021. PPS begins requiring those above the age of five to show proof of vaccination to enter games. Team guidelines also change:  if a player tested positive for COVID-19, all unvaccinated players on both teams must quarantine. This also applies for a visiting team player testing positive. Though players are allowed to use the locker rooms, it is recommended that they avoid use. 

Nov.17, 2021 — beginning of winter sports season 

On Nov. 17, issues come up with pools being overcrowded, leading to changes such as teams being given six lanes to practice in for one hour. In addition, the Multnomah Athletic Club (MAC) can only accommodate three Lincoln practices each week because of a lifeguard shortage. This was the same issue that the swim team faced last year when trying to practice at Portland Parks & Recreation pools. Many teams from different schools have had to share in order to practice. 

Dec. 1, 2021 

On Dec. 1, athletic directors have their ninth meeting. Vaccination checks are still occurring for all spectators, but now include vaccination checks for all students wanting to attend games. PPS also accepts a negative COVID-19 test within the last 72 hours (in lieu of vaccination) to be shown for entry. Concession stands are optional, but all food has to be factory packaged. Some changes for swimming include that large meets are not allowed, which caused changes in the schedules for some schools. Spectators are still allowed at swim meets, but there are also livestreams of each meet. Because Portland Parks & Recreation is not doing vaccination checks, PPS matches their guidelines to Portland Parks & Recreation and does not require vaccination checks for spectators at swim meets. 

Dec.27, 2021 

The CDC reduces the number of quarantine days from 10 to five. PPS elects to proceed with the original ten day isolation period for any students, employees or coaches. 

Jan. 3, 2022

During the week of Jan. 1, McDaniel and Cleveland High Schools go temporarily virtual. All athletics for these two schools pauses while they are in temporary distance learning. 

Jan. 12, 2022

On Jan. 12, PPS changes their quarantine procedure to match CDC guidelines: students, employees and coaches only have to quarantine for five days instead of 10. 

Jan.13, 2022 

On Jan. 13, major changes are made to PPS athletic guidelines due to the rise in cases related to the new Omicron variant. Concession stands are closed until further notice; there are also no outside foods or drinks allowed at events. No overnight travel is permitted for athletics.

Guidelines for spectators are also updated. In addition to all spectators ages five and up being required to show proof of vaccination, events are limited to 50% capacity. Each athlete is allowed only five spectator tickets for both home and visiting teams. The district changes the ticketing guidelines to no charge for tickets to sporting events. 

Feb. 4, 2022 

On Feb. 4, PPS decide that masks are no longer required while competing, but athletes not actively competing are still required to wear face masks at all times. Limited access to locker rooms for athletes continues. Overnight travel is still not permitted for teams. 

 

This article will continue to be updated as changes are made to athletic guidelines.