Due to the gradual decline of COVID-19 cases, the California Department of Public Health announced the return of outdoor sports in Southern California on Feb. 19. Counties whose cases are within the required adjusted rate of 14 cases or lower per 100,000 people have been authorized to begin outdoor sports. Los Angeles, Orange, and San Luis Obispo counties barely managed to meet the adjusted case rate.
Outdoor sports were set to return on Feb. 26 for applicable counties, enabling sports further away from the widespread, or purple, tier to resume. Some of these sports include cross country, track and field, and tennis. High physical contact sports, like football and soccer, can resume as long as their county has met the adjusted case rate mandate and follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.
With the return of sports, there have been several modifications in order to procure definite safety. The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) generated protocols that each sport must adhere to, which include wearing masks, social distancing when possible, and regular, or weekly, testing of athletes and coaches. Testing tools will be provided by the state to all schools at no charge. There are other guidelines that sports teams must partake in based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Federation of State High School Associations, and past occurrences in high schools that held competitions.
Students are expected to start outdoor practices by the second week of March. But before beginning practices, to be eligible to condition, students must have physical clearance, proof of insurance, and sign a COVID-19 waiver.
Outdoor sports currently take priority on the resumption because the transmission rates are lower than indoor sports. However, CIF, CDC, and the governor’s office have been discussing a plan for indoor sports to resume as well. But if one’s county meets the case-rate margin, indoor sports can be played outdoors. The status of sports resuming may change at any time depending on the COVID-19 transmission rate, and school districts have the final call of finalizing the authorization of whether or not sports teams can play.