Last week, the California Department of Public Health updated its youth sports guidelines for opening athletic competitions. Unfortunately, the new guidelines will not get athletes on the field anytime soon.
The initial guidelines had the California Interscholastic Federation dividing high school sports into three seasons with football games to start Jan. 7. Under the new guidelines, announced on Dec. 14, football, as an outdoor and high-contact sport, would not be able to be played until a county was in the “orange tier,” which indicates moderate risk of COVID-19. San Mateo County is currently in the “purple,” most restrictive tier of the state’s four-tiered system. The new guidelines state no team competitions are allowed at least until Jan. 25. Updated information is expected in early January.
Last week in my column I highlighted several Terra Nova football players conditioning on their own as Coach Jason Piccolotti could not meet with his players as a group, much less be on the football field himself.
The Jefferson Union High School District’s policy of not opening the field for conditioning during the pandemic didn’t set right with a parent. He asked, “Why is the school district able to profit off renting the field out during COVID but not willing to let their own sports programs utilize the fields?”
The Jefferson Union School District responded to the field rental issue as well as why the district does not allow conditioning by its student-athletes.
“The District leadership team discussed the pros and cons of continuing field rentals during the mandated stay-at-home order. As COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly across our entire county and a regional stay-at-home order is in place, we have decided to discontinue field rentals. We do not want to increase the potential risk of exposure for our staff if it is not absolutely necessary, and renting out fields requires that our maintenance and custodial teams be available to service the property after use,” said JUHSD Superintendent Toni Presta. “Some of our facilities, including the Terra Nova pool, are rented out with a long-term Memorandum of Understanding. In these situations, the renter will determine whether they will keep the facilities open.”
The recent CDPH guidelines cited that physical conditioning that can be conducted outdoors, with six feet of physical distancing, and within stable cohorts is authorized regardless of county tier status. Public health officials recommend exercisers limit activities to their own household.
“We are in a very serious situation,” said JUHSD Board of Education President Rosie Tjada. “Whole families in our community are testing positive for the virus. We aren’t allowing athletic conditioning because safety has to come first. This is a very difficult decision for the Board of Trustees to make. We understand the importance of athletics for our students and their futures. These futures will be more negatively impacted if we do not prioritize their health and well-being.”
“We absolutely value team sports, and are very proud of our student athletes. We also value student safety and health. We have partnered with Curative to make free, painless COVID-19 testing available to our school community. Every day, we see a concerning number of community members impacted by the virus. Allowing athletics at this time would only increase the risk to our students and community,” said Presta.
Senior leader retires: Pacifica’s leading advocate for senior citizens retires today after a 16-year career with the City of Pacifica.
Jim Lange has supervised the Senior Services Division as recreation manager with the Pacifica Parks, Beaches and Recreation Department. His home for those 16 years has been the Pacifica Community Center where he watched over a Senior in Action membership currently numbering around 900.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Jim for more than 40 years. More recently I have had the privilege of working with him as Chair of the SIA. His retirement plans call for him to move to Idaho where he has family. Idaho’s gain is Pacifica’s loss. Best wishes, Jim, on your next venture.
Horace Hinshaw is a longtime Pacifica journalist and contributor to the Tribune.