May 30, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

New guidelines released by state officials could help OC high school athletic camps resume

New guidelines announced Tuesday by the California Department of State Health allowing for youth and high school teams to conduct instruction and practices could lead the way for the return of high school camps in Orange County.

However, it’s possible that Orange County health officials and officials from each district still have the final say on the resumption of athletic camps, which were suspended in July. because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, which has haulted high school sports since March. Athletic officials will likely be looking for clarification on what it means for their programs.

“The guidance for youth sports establishes a consistent set of rules that apply to all youth sports programs — including school-based, club, and recreational programs. Outdoor and indoor sporting events, assemblies, and other activities that require close contact or that would promote congregating, such as tournaments and competitions, are not permitted at this time,” a release from the state said.

“Youth sports and physical education are permitted only when physical distancing of at least six feet and a stable cohort of participants, such as a class, can be maintained. Activities should take place outside to the maximum extent possible.”

The guidelines released made it clear that games are not allowed.

“Tournaments, events, or competitions, regardless of whether teams are from the same school or from different schools, counties, or states are not permitted at this time,” the release said.

The announcement could lead the way for high school athletic camps to resume.

“The information provided from the CPHD regarding youth sports and camps provides us with the parameters and necessary guidelines to allow camps for our athletes,” said Mark Cunningham, Irvine Unified School District Athletic Director.

“As far as Irvine Unified is concerned, our number one priority right now is to get our schools open safely. Once all of the details and challenges are met for the start of school, then I believe we will look at allowing our athletic teams to proceed as if it were summer camp.”

Under the new CIF plan, most fall sports are being moved to December and football is scheduled to start in January 2021. CIF officials have said that students would have to be on campus for instruction and health officials would need to provide approval for the schedule to be executed.

“Because CIF-SS has extended summertime rules through early December, we would be able to meet with our athletes in a camp setting, until the start of the winter season,” Cunningham said. “The Irvine Unified safety guidelines and protocols are already in place and have been approved.  The question that will need to be answered is will the Orange County Department of Health and the governor’s office approve of allowing camps to proceed.”

Cunningham said that athletes would have to follow physical distancing of at least six feet and that athletes would have to “avoid equipment sharing, and if unavoidable, clean and disinfect shared equipment between use by different people to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread.”

Cunningham said that officials in the Irvine school distict are planning for the start of school in two weeks. Most school districts, including Irvine, are scheduled to re-open with on-line courses because of the high number of coronavirus cases.

He was not sure if the Irvine district would be able to resume camps with students only taking on-line courses.

“I will be reaching out to the OC Department of Health as well as the OC Department of Education legal services for answers,” he said. “I cannot tell you one way or the other if we will only open camps when students are in class.

“We are happy for the guidance and the possibility of opening camps and looking forward to that happening in the near future.”

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone;