By Zach Cavanagh
Once again, another new timeline has been established for a return to some semblance of organized athletic activities for high school sports teams.
Following the California Department of Public Health’s latest guidelines on Aug. 3 that allowed the resumption of youth sports training, the Capistrano Unified School District announced on Friday, Aug. 7, that it would return to its plan for Phase 1 Conditioning Camps starting on Aug. 18, the first day of instruction for San Clemente High School.
“CDPH and Orange County are allowing youth sports training and conditioning under specific circumstances,” the CUSD release said. “Using plans developed for our original July 6 return date, site athletic directors, with District staff, will work to develop a conditioning plan that appropriately adheres to the most up-to-date health and safety guidance.”
High school sports have been completely shut down since mid-March, and while Orange County had released guidance on June 15 that said youth sports practices were allowed to resume, CUSD had held off. CUSD later announced that it would open conditioning camps in a limited Phase 1 on July 6, but those plans were subsequently canceled just days before the camps were to open. On July 8, the state restated a full shutdown of youth sports until further guidance was provided on Aug. 3.
The CIF State’s and CIF-SS’ revised schedules announced on July 20 have still pushed back full practices and the start of game schedules to December, but with CUSD’s latest announcement, coaches and players seem to be set for a return to valuable in-person training, which will be a welcome change for many after months of distanced and disconnected video chats.
While further details will be worked out with individual athletic directors and coaches, CUSD’s release provided several regulations that schools will follow.
These camps will still be limited to conditioning exercises and individual skill drills. No equipment will be used during the Phase 1 workouts, and no full-on camps, competitions or games are permitted.
These conditioning workouts will only be conducted outdoors with no use of gymnasiums, indoor weight room facilities or any other team rooms. With proper 6-foot distancing in place, there will be limits of only 50 total participants on a full football field and 20 total participants on baseball and softball fields or the pool deck. Those totals will be made up of smaller groups. No spectators of any kind, including parents, other students or media, will be permitted at the athletic facilities.
A point of emphasis on the release stated that participation during the online learning or hybrid model of instruction is voluntary for all student-athletes. Those who did wish to participate would need a physical and submit their online athletic clearance.
Face coverings are mandatory when arriving or exiting the facilities. Athletes will arrive in small groups at assigned times, which will be staggered by 15 minutes to allow physical distancing. Upon arrival each day, all athletes and coaches will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms. With each arrival and exit, coaches and athletes will wash their hands or use hand sanitizer.
It’s not normal or extensive, but athletic activities are returning to San Clemente High School.
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a multiple California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at email@example.com.