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High school sports to look different this fall

Traditionally, Fall means the return of high school sports, but nothing about this year has been "traditional"
Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 6:36 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - With so many concerns about returning to school, athletes are worried about their upcoming seasons.

School districts and the South Dakota High School Actives Association want to see sports played, but keeping everyone safe and healthy during the pandemic is a concern.

Unfortunately, there's no one good answer.

"All that is down to a district by district and community decision because what might make sense in Rapid City, for example, might not be the same thing that makes sense in a Oneida or a Highmore in a small town versus a large community," said John Krogstrand, the assistant executive director of South Dakota High School Activities Association. "Or small district versus large district and what those facilities are like and what those facilities can handle."

Krogstrand hope districts and communities will take a common sense approach, reflecting Governor Kristi Noem's attitude that each community should decide what is best for them. While mask use is recommended for officials and participants, it is being left up to each community and facility, but rules were modified to allow mask wearing. Krogstrand describes a great working relationship with the Departments of Health and Education and the Governor's office to make the best decisions that allow for a return to play.

"For the Rapid City Area Schools, our goal is to allow activities participants regardless of their activity to have a chance to compete, perform, whatever, as long as they can safely," said Jared Vasquez, Activities Director at Rapid City Stevens High School.

"Between Jared and myself, we put together a pretty comprehensive plan that was approved by our school board, through a lot of hours of collaborating and work with our building leadership, as well as district leadership to put a plan into place to not only help start the season, but hopefully finish a season," said Jordan Bauer, Activities Director at Rapid City Central High School.

Vasquez and Bauer said this plan is a reflection of the level plan that the school district is using-- green, yellow, and red. Plans are still being finalized for "green," but there could be limited fans. "Yellow," the level that the district is currently in, will have a fan threshold-- no student section or staff, but each participant will get two tickets. There will be no games in the "red" level.

The decision making process was universally described as "fluid" and "situational," with reporting, recording, and timing of someone getting sick being important factors.

"The difficulty comes into now determining who has been in close contact and does one person shut down the whole team because one person wasn't necessarily involved with all of the other cases," said Todd Palmer, Activities Director for Meade School District.

Palmer said the Meade Schools have a color-level plan, similar to Rapid City, but the Black Hills Athletic Conference has a pass list policy, where participants can have certain number of names on a list for entry. The specific number depends on the color level.

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