R-II schools consider winter sports guidelines – warrencountyrecord.com

While there were plenty of disruptions, including quarantined athletes and canceled contests, sports teams in the Wright City R-II School District were able to finish their fall season with a …
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While there were plenty of disruptions, including quarantined athletes and canceled contests, sports teams in the Wright City R-II School District were able to finish their fall season with a relative sense of closure. That alone could be considered success amidst a global pandemic.
Now the district turns its attention toward the unique challenges of the winter sports season, which is just a few weeks away from beginning practices. Whereas outdoor events have provided for natural social distancing, all winter events will bring athletes and spectators indoors. During the fall season, this was only the case for volleyball.
“(Athletic Director) David Evans has done quite a bit of work collaborating with other districts in our conference and around the area,” said R-II Superintendent Dr. Chris Berger. “While there were some differences in how districts handled football ticket allotments and other restrictions during the fall, we’re expecting there to be a lot of more uniformity across districts with the winter sports.”
While only football and volleyball had ticket restrictions among Wright City’s six fall sports, it’s anticipated each of the winter sports — boys and girls basketball and wrestling — will have capacity limitations. This is even more likely in light of the recent increases R-II has experienced in COVID-19 cases and students quarantined. The high school was hit particularly hard last week, with an average of 77 students quarantined per day. With under 400 in-person students enrolled, that’s around 20 percent of the student body absent. The conclusion of the week saw two more students test positive, expanding the number of those impacted by contact tracing.
“With the new contact tracing standard of being within six feet for 15 cumulative minutes, rather than continuous, it’s increased our quarantine numbers,” said Berger. “What I’m trying to communicate is to remind our families there is a distinction between students who are COVID positive and those who are quarantined. Often it’s just one student who is sick, while those who are quarantined showed no symptoms or were not ill.”
The Homecoming football game against South Callaway scheduled for last Friday was canceled due to pandemic-related challenges faced by the opposing school. Berger said decisions made by visiting schools are one of several factors outside the district’s control
“That’s kind of the double-edged sword of it,” said Berger. “You’ve got things you can control internally, and then you’ve got these external things that have been canceled or rescheduled due to COVID.”
The focus for R-II is on mitigating the risk as it brings more people into its facilities in a time when case numbers are on the rise. The plan for winter sports is to limit each athlete to having either two or four spectator passes per contest at the high school. Given the smaller size of the facilities at the middle school, it’s possible those athletes would be limited to just one spectator ticket.
“That’s another way we can mitigate risks, but it’s not the news we want to deliver to our families, making them have to decide who will attend a child’s game, while others cannot go,” said Berger.
In order to encourage the consistent use of masks in the buildings, R-II is also weighing its options when it comes to providing concessions.
“We’re considering several ways for how we can handle concessions,” said Berger. “It spans from having no concessions, to having food restricted to being eaten in the cafeteria, so when people come back in the gym they would be expected to have their masks on at all times.”
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