Wesco lays out plan to hold short seasons for high school sports
Doug Ramsay 2019 file photo
Snohomish Panther Kaylin Beckman (center) and Lake Stevens Viking Carmen Long (left) chase a loose ball in a December 2019 matchup as Viking Emma Lund (right) watches during play in a December 2019 non-league matchup inside Lake Stevens’ newly renovated gym on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2019.
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — The Wesco athletic conference has proposed an updated schedule in hopes all high school sports will have the opportunity to compete in the 2020-2021 school year. The updated season schedule isolates Wesco from the statewide WIAA, creating a conference-only year of sports.
On Jan. 4, Wesco proposed the conference-only schedule to the WIAA, which Wesco Vice President and Arlington High School athletic director Tom Roys expects to be a quick approval. If WIAA accepts, a sports season is anticipated to consist of five games of in-conference play, and fall sports would start practice on Feb. 22.
On Nov. 19, WIAA executive director Mick Hoffman released a statement expressing his concern for the well-being of students without the ability to compete in high school athletics. If passed by the WIAA, each athletic director within the conference would present the proposed plan to the district’s superintendent for feedback and possible approval.
“Each superintendent will be able to weigh in to say whether or not their schools are going to be willing to participate in that or not,” Roys said.
In addition to WIAA and school district approval, the future of athletes participating in school affiliated athletics continues to hinge on COVID-19 case numbers. The threshold to allow play requires 25 or less new COVID cases per 100,000 people in each a two-week period in the area, a number Roys said will be difficult to reach. The most recent two-week case count from the Snohomish Health District, Dec. 13 to Dec. 26, counted 330 new cases.
Following fall sports, spring sports are scheduled to start practice March 29, and winter sports would start May 3.
Roys said winter sports have the highest virus transmission risk, so these are scheduled last.
The schedule calls for a decision to be made three weeks before the first practice on whether the season can take place. Athletic directors will determine if individual sports can take place safely.
If a specific sport cannot safely happen when scheduled, the sport will be moved to an alternate season.
”It’s such a fluid situation and there are so many changing variables that it’s hard to get a great plan put together because you just don’t know what’s going to happen,” Roys said. “We just have to be willing to pivot and, you know, go a different direction based on the information we have.”
Wesco developed a two-season plan in case the fall season is pushed back because of too many COVID cases. Under this plan, each sport will play six games to make a season; volleyball and girls swim will be added to the spring season starting March 8, leaving the remainder of fall sports, such as football, to be added to the winter season starting May 3.
Should case numbers continue to surpass the required level and if the two-season plan cannot safely be carried out, all fall and winter sports seasons will be canceled.
Roys said because spring sports were not able to compete last year, the priority is to make sure spring sport athletes do not go two years without playing.
Dates for the spring season would be determined should that situation arise.
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