Parents from the Olympia School District expressed their hopes for a return to high school athletics at a school board meeting on Sept. 28th. While students in the Olympia School District were allowed to participate in summer athletic practices, restrictions imposed by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) limited high school extracurricular activities for the beginning of the academic year.
Parent Jami Downing commented on the success of summer athletic practices at Olympia High School.
“We were extremely impressed with how the coaches this summer handled the social distancing guidelines during their group work-outs and went above and beyond to make certain they were carefully following the guidelines,” said Downing.
New guidance issued by Gov. Jay Inslee on Oct. 6th will allow schools in Thurston County to resume athletic practices. The new guidance has organized sports under different levels of risk, with contact sports, like football, labelled high risk.
Masks will be required for athletes not directly engaged in athletic activity and by all spectators, coaches, referees, and other members of paid or volunteer staff. Physical distancing of six feet must be maintained between all participants and regular cleanings will be required.
The Communications and Community Relations department of the Olympia School District released updated information to families following Inslee’s press conference on Oct. 6th.
“The new guidance specifically speaks to indoor and outdoor school team sports, including team practices and/or training. Subsequently, we are able to resume high school workouts like we did this past summer,” the department wrote.
At Olympia High School, extracurricular sports started up again today.
"The kids are ecstatic," said Robert Kickner, the high school's Director of Athletics.
“Fortunately, here in Thurston County, we had the opportunity to experience the COVID safety protocols this summer as a Washington Safe Start Phase 3 County,” said Kickner. “North Thurston, Yelm, Olympia, [and] Tumwater all had successful experiences without any student-to-student transmission.”
Kickner emphasized the trust he and his staff have in the medical professionals supporting athletic practices, and the feeling of excitement for a return of sports.
“Families get to decide what is best for their individual, but in Olympia, we have a large cohort of students craving the opportunity to participate [in sports],” said Kickner. “We are excited to return to the courts and fields and will do it all with the best practices available.”