Covid-19 has changed nearly everything about our lives in 2020. It also changed nearly everything about the Northwest School. School is completely on Zoom, school lunches occur only once a week, and it is still unknown when or if sports seasons will happen due to the increased spread of covid. I recently talked to Britt Atack, the Northwest School athletics director to hopefully gain some clarity, but unfortunately Washington State still doesn’t know what is going to happen for high school sports.
Since the beginning of the school year, it was known that sports seasons were going to be pushed back and made shorter. In a regular school year, school sports would start at the same time as classes. Right now, volleyball, ultimate, girls soccer, and cross country would be having their seasons, but because of Coronavirus this season is purely made up of practices, rather than a combination of practices and games. When the sports seasons do happen in the future they will only be about two months, which is 70% of the length that they used to be. Currently, however, the student athletes are practicing in small pods of 4-6 students. The athletes are required to fill out a form before every practice asking if they have had contact with any person suffering from Covid-19 or if they have experienced any of the symptoms. Once they enter their practices they have to get their temperature checked and then proceed to wash their hands. The athletes are socially distanced as much as possible and are required to wear masks when not actively working out. Every night after sports, a cleaning company disinfects everything out of extra precaution. The athletics department is really doing everything they can to keep these students safe.
When asked when sports would officially start, Britt said that “there’s still so much we don’t know” and right now it’s not safe enough to allow sports. The school’s number one priority right now is safety for the students and because of that there is a very real possibility that indoor contact sports may not happen in the 2020-2021 school year. The sports with the least risk of the spreading of Covid-19 are non-contact outdoor sports like cross country. A possibility that Britt mentioned was playing indoor sports, outdoors. For example, this year Massachusetts played volleyball outdoors instead of indoors to minimize the risk of spreading the virus. Britt said that he could see very unconventional seasons happening in order to allow student athletes to still have seasons. Season 2 is when games are scheduled to begin in late november, but Britt isn’t too hopeful that this will happen. The first game for what is usually winter sports (basketball and mixed ultimate) is supposed to be on December 28th and the season will be done on February 27th. All the fall sports would be in Season ,3 which runs from March to April, and the final season would be the rest of the school year. There was the idea of possibly playing sports in a different season than usual depending on the Covid rate at the time. For example, maybe a sport with lower risk, like cross country, would be played first, and a high risk sport like basketball would be played in the final season assuming the virus dies down.
Schools play a big part in deciding whether or not sports seasons will happen, but the most important decision comes from the WIAA (Washington Interscholastic Activities Association). Some of the uncertainty will be cleared up in mid November when the WIAA puts out more specific details that will still be subject to change. There is still so much that cannot be predicted, and for that reason sports this school year will be different than any other year at Northwest School.