A step in the right direction to resuming high school athletics, the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association has shifted into its third phase of COVID-19 modifications, moving closer to its target date of Jan. 2 for the start of winter sports.
The move is based on Emergency Directive 34 issued Oct. 2 by Gov. Steve Sisolak regarding the opening of youth sports, allowing for competition in “minimal-contact sports, ” and a step closer to the possibility of competition in “full-contact and close-contact sports.”
For winter athletics slated to begin practice Jan. 2, bowling and flag football have been deemed acceptable for competition as of now, with basketball and wrestling on the outside looking in.
The NIAA has stated that competition in full-contact sports will require additional action by Sisolak and that it has received assurance that the issue will be revisited in preparation for the beginning of practice for winter-season sports.
“I’m excited for the kids to get an opportunity to play,” boys basketball coach John Balistere said. “A lot of our players play multiple sports, so they’ve lost out so far this year. I’m really hoping we’re able to have a season and get some sense of normalcy back in our everyday lives.”
However, one major obstacle remains before competition begins: getting students back into the classroom. While discussions have been ongoing, no date has been set and the NIAA has made it clear that schools that are not back in the classroom will be ineligible to compete athletically.
The modified Phase 3 plan requires COVID-19 testing for all coaches, managers, officials/referees and team staff members prior to the start of the season or resumption of athletic activity. It is also strongly encouraged that testing be conducted every other week during the season.
For participating athletes, the NIAA is strongly recommending that all players test for COVID-19 prior to the start of the season, but at this time has not made it a mandatory request.
Health screenings, however, are required for players, with contactless temperature screenings mandatory for all athletes, coaches, referees/officials, league officials, staff and managers before each practice, game or other team event. A COVID-19 screening-survey question is also required upon arrival and check-in at each practice, game or other team event.
A positive COVID-19 test could become detrimental to the entire team. According to the NIAA, if a coach, manager or athlete tests positive for COVID-19, the entire team (if they had been in close contact with the positive individual) must quarantine for 14 days. All team activities and practices must be canceled for 14 days during the quarantine period.
Looking to keep everyone safe and healthy in what will already be a shortened season, coaching staffs at Boulder City High School will continue to preach social distancing when possible and the use of face masks out in public to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“It will be imperative that everyone follows the guidelines and protocols that have been put in place,” Balistere said. “Certainly with only a six-week season you would hate to have a third of it taken away because of a positive test. In all reality, it’s going to be a challenge because you have high school kids who want to experience life and hang out with their friends, but this is certainly doable. As a coaching staff we just have to keep reminding our guys the importance of staying safe and doing what we can to prevent the spread.”
Contact Robert Vendettoli at BCRsports@gmail.com.