The Bethel, Eugene and Springfield school districts have collaboratively agreed to permit high school football to begin next week. Girls and boys soccer are also set to play. Volleyball teams are expected to be able to play if local COVID rates continue to improve. Traditional spring sports are tentatively scheduled to begin in April and winter sports in May.
The Oregon Health Authority recently revised its guidance for outdoor sports, permitting high school teams to begin practice and competition providing that health and safety protocols are put in place. Because Lane County is in the COVID Extreme Risk category, the protocols include on-site COVID testing, developed plans for contact tracing, isolation and quarantining, a waiver identifying health and safety risks, and no spectators being allowed.
Willamette High School will join three schools from Eugene 4J and two from Springfield for an abbreviated football season, with varsity games tentatively scheduled to begin March 5. Teams have long been safely engaging in conditioning and training activities in preparation for high school sports.
School districts in extreme risk counties may participate in full-contact sports only if they are providing limited in-person instruction and are moving toward a return to on-site learning in a Hybrid model sometime this school year.
Willamette has already been providing limited in-person academic instruction, and the start of high school sports is one more way to keep students connected and engaged in school.
While the overall success of high school sports this year is dependent upon everyone doing their part to limit the transmission of COVID-19 in our community, starting a new athletic season supports students’ mental, emotional, and physical health.