Post-COVID high school athletics should be under way by July 1

By Scott Swanson
Lebanon Local

Local athletes are being allowed back on the fields and into the gyms for the first time since mid-March, though some schools, including Lebanon as of press time, are waiting until July 1.
The Lebanon Community Pool opened Monday, June 15, with rules for “extreme social distancing in the pool and facility, along with added times of extra cleaning and disinfection,” according to its website.
The Oregon School Activities Association, which governs all high school extracurricular activities in Oregon, issued guidelines earlier this month to allow some access to school facilities coaches and athletes under Phase 2 of the reopening from the coronavirus pandemic.
It will be the first time since mid-March, when local schools closed their campuses due to COVID-19 fears, that school facilities will be open.
“We’re putting a plan together for the July 1 date,” said Kraig Hoene, LHS atheletic director.
He said most districts are following that schedule, which is preferred by their insurance providers.
“For Lebanon that means our coaches can put plans together for how they’re going to stay within the guidelines in the weight room, etc.”
The OSAA’s restrictions in the guidelines vary, based on the sport. Games involving balls have the most leeway. Under Phase 1 guidelines, issued on May 20, passing of a ball was not allowed in any sport, even “moderate risk” sports such as volleyball, soccer, baseball, softball and basketball.
Under the most recent Phase 2 guidelines, athletes in those sports, as well as “high risk” activities, which include football, can throw, pass and kick balls within a pod – as long as the ball is sanitized frequently.
The most recent OSAA directive strongly emphasize sanitizing surfaces frequently, personal hygiene, maintaining “appropriate” distancing, The rules limit gatherings to 50 people inside and 100 outdoors on a single field or facility. They recommend that drills be done in pods of five to 10 students, smaller for weight training.

Low-Key Strawberry Century:
Cyclists ride along McDowell Creek Road Saturday, June 13, during the 28th Annual Srawberry Century, which attracted 196 riders from across Oregon and as far away as Kansas. This year’s ride was by donation only, with proceeds going to the Linn County Food Bank. Riders started from the Lebanon Church of Latter-Day Saints because Lebanon High School facilities were closed. Routes ranged from a 13-mile Family Route to the Epic Century, which took riders through Crabtree to the Scio area, back through Lacomb and Berlin to Sweet Home, around Foster Lake and south to Brownsville, before returning to Lebanon.
Photo by Scott Swanson

People considered high-risk – those 65 or older, or who have underlying medical conditions, are encouraged not to participate or supervise athletic practices.
Heone acknowledged that there are a lot of questions.
“There’s a big cloud of uncertainty about what it’s going to actually look like in the fall,” he said. “Phase 3 is pretty much on stand-down. I don’t know if we’re going to have a regular start to the fall season. I’d love to see it happen, but I think we’re going to be getting some guidance here, once we get to July 1.”
He said some of the restrictions don’t make a lot of sense to him, as a longtime coach and athletic director.
“My kid was a wide receiver. I feel more comfortable with him doing that than kids running cross-country together.”
Although the school’s facilities have been closed, young athletes have used city parks to play ball.
“We still have fields,” he said. “Our kids have the ability to go to the parks and do stuff on their own accord, if they want. The track is still open for people to walk on.”
The district’s ball fields and courts are not open, he noted.
“We have a group of 10 or 15 kids who love to throw the football around. We tell them they have to go elsewhere until July 1.
“It will be interesting. We’ve scheduled everything as normal. I think there are going to have to be some alterations in how we do things.”
Lebanon Community Pool is limiting usage to one person per each of its six lanes, except for members of the same family. It is offering additional lap swimming time, which must be reserved by phone during regular business hours, and plans to offer some classes in the main pool, as well as family swims and opportunities to use the warm pool, which is limited to 10 patrons at a time. Drop-in swimming is allowed if there is room.
Instructor-led classes, group classes and traditional recreational swims are not being offered at present. “We know that this new ‘normal’ is different and might pose a bit of a challenge. However, we want to be able to provide as much aquatic fitness and recreation opportunity as possible in a manner that is as safe as possible,” a statement on the pool’s website said. “Please be patient with us and know that we are here to serve our community and will be bringing back more programs as soon as we can.”
Patrons are asked asked to wear masks when not in the water and not to enter the pool if they have “any COVID-19 symptoms ,such as coughing, fever, chills, and or shortness of breath.”
For more information, contact the pool at (541) 451-8551.