COVID guidelines have changed for school athletes

Students can return to competition sooner with new rules


Ryan Syms

Junior Nicholas Plincer, a varsity wrestler, gets a COVID-19 test in the theater so he can compete in his next meet.

High school sports have been disrupted by COVID-19 countless times over the past two years and it has continued to affect Cal High athletes.

The San Ramon Valley Unified School District has tried to devise different solutions to keep students playing through the pandemic. 

Right now schools are at the end of the winter season, which includes two of the biggest sports in high school: basketball and soccer. With these sports taking place in different settings the athletes have to take different precautions to be allowed to participate.

The difference between indoor and outdoor sports at the moment is that indoor sports require weekly testing and outdoor sports don’t. 

Athletic director Chris Declercq said these different rules for indoor and outdoor sports are in line with Contra Costa County health guidelines.

“If or when those change, the district may update their guidelines,” Declercq said.

Athletes are not required to get tests on their own because the school has been offering on-site testing for athletes only every week.

“We get tested every Monday in the theater,” senior varsity basketball player Garrett Bullock said.

Athletes who test positive can be prevented from playing for up to 10 days which could mean they could miss around four games in their season. 

But some good news came recently for athletes who tested positive. They  are now allowed to return to their sport and school after five days if they test negative and are vaccinated. 

They are, however, supposed to wear a mask at all times except when they are playing for five days, according to the district’s COVID policy.

This goes for students no matter their vaccination status for  both outdoor and indoor sports. Student athletes who experienced COVID symptoms need a negative test the fifth day after those symptoms began in order to return. Asymptomatic students need a negative test five days after an original positive test, according to the district policy.

These rules have been toughest on seniors because it means  they could miss their senior nights and big games in their final seasons.

This new guideline helped senior varsity soccer player Derek O’Brien, who said he recently tested positive for COVID-19 during some of the most important games of his team’s season. O’Brien said when he learned he tested positive he was devastated because he was worried he may not have been able to play when his team needed him.

But he tested negative after five days and, because of some good timing, returned to the field after missing only one game. 

O’Brien said the rules for returning to play weren’t fully clear though because the mask policy was different than he thought.

“It was weird,” O’Brien said. “I thought I had to wear a mask but they told me I didn’t need one when I got on the field.”

Bullock is another student who recently tested positive right after his team’s senior night. 

“The first thing I thought when I tested positive was that I was going to have to miss a week of basketball,” Bullock said.

Bullock isn’t the first person on the basketball team to test positive recently, as many members of his team were out around the return from winter break, which even caused the team to postpone some games.