New guidelines for COVID testing will begin Wednesday for all high school athletes and coaches in Contra Costa County.
In an effort to get more people vaccinated and reduce the number of COVID cases, athletes and coaches will now have to show proof of vaccination or be tested twice a week. The San Ramon Valley Unified School District announced these guidelines in an email sent Sunday, stating they are in accordance with Contra Costa Health Services.
School sites will provide access to rapid COVID-19 testing on Mondays and Wednesdays. Students who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic are not required to test, according to the email. Testing also is not recommended for asymptomatic people who test positive for COVID-19 within the past 90 days.
The email indicates that the district plans to expand testing to all indoor extra-curricular activities as early as next week.
“It is very likely [the new guidelines] will change as the district is in line with what the county says,” athletic director Chris deClercq said.
Athletes who aren’t vaccinated, or if their vaccination status is unknown, may encounter some problems with this new requirement because of contact tracing rules, which requires them to quarantine at home for a week depending on their level of exposure. Athletes who are exposed to a teammate or are unmasked themselves when in contact with someone testing positive must quarantine at home for 10 days from exposure, or only seven days if a negative COVID test is provided, according to county guidelines.
“This doesn’t affect players that are ‘vaxxed’ but if you aren’t it could be hard because an exposure could affect if you play on Friday night or not,” senior varsity football player Alekai Afoa said.
This new requirement could have big implications because now that there is more frequent testing, there could be a larger number of positive cases among students. Cal had 17 reported cases of students testing positive for COVID-19 as of Sunday.
Some athletes have said that the new guidelines don’t affect them.
“They don’t affect me because as long as we stay safe and limit exposure to COVID overall we’ll be able to get things back to normal faster,” senior varsity tennis player Karma Delaware siad. “Sports are the same except [as they were before except] for the masks which don’t affect me much.”
The only fall sports athletes and coaches required to wear masks at all times are those on the volleyball team because that is the only indoor sport right now. This is nothing new as Declercq said they have been wearing masks indoores since last spring. In the winter, this requirement also will affect the basketball and wrestling teams, which compete indoors.
“We’re just hoping for the best, planning for the worst,” deClercq said.
Sports Editor Eli Mayerson contributed to this story.