High School Athletics

Over the past week, we’ve received several questions regarding athletics and activities. The District is allowing participation in high school sports under the guidelines of the  Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). Admittedly, the rules are complex. OSAA recently prepared an 8-page  Frequently Asked Questions update and a  calendar of shortened seasons which you’re welcome to review. Below, we’ve highlighted some important points.


Does a student’s participation in sports depend on schools being open for in-person instruction? No. Guidelines for OSAA school-sponsored sports and activities are now based on a county’s  Covid-19 Risk Level (lower, moderate, high, extreme). Guidelines for sports are no longer tied to a school’s instructional model.


How is my county’s COVID-19 Risk Level measured? The risk level is a measure of COVID-19 spread in a community. A  county's status is updated every two weeks. At present, Columbia County is classified at the Extreme Risk level, which means there are  strict limits, including no indoor recreation; outdoor recreation is limited to a maximum of 50 people.


At present, what sports are being allowed? We are currently in what OSAA defines as Season 1 (now - February 21). Students in minimal, medium and non-contact outdoor sports (baseball, cross country, golf, softball, soccer, tennis, track & field) can participate at any time. Minimal, medium and non-contact indoor activities (non-contact cheerleading, non-contact dance/drill, volleyball) are permitted except in counties at the Extreme Risk level, like Columbia County. Students in full-contact sports (basketball, contact cheerleading, contact dance/drill, football and wrestling) may train and condition only and may not have contact of any kind.


If metrics allow, Season 2 (February 22 - April 11) will be for cross county, football, soccer and volleyball. Season 3 (April 5 - May 23) will be for baseball, golf, softball, tennis and track & field. Season 4 (May 10 - June 27) will be for basketball, wrestling and swimming. (Exception: Currently, the start date for football is February 8.)


The OSAA has set a maximum number of meets/games/matches. For more details, check this calendar.


At present, can students participate indoors? No. Because Columbia County is classified at the Extreme Risk level, there’s no indoor conditioning or training. All sports activities must occur outdoors. That means, for example, that volleyball practice can occur only if it’s outside (grass or sand).


At present, are there restrictions on outdoor activities? Yes. Because Columbia County is classified at the Extreme Risk level, all outdoor activities are limited to no more than 50 people, including players, coaches, referees and any other people present. “Outdoor,” as defined by OHA, means any open-air space including any space which may have a temporary or fixed cover (awning or roof) and at least 75% of the square footage of its sides open for airflow.


At present, can students participate in full-contact sports? No. Full-contact sports such as football, basketball, wrestling, contact dance and contact cheerleading remain prohibited by the Governor and OHA. Training and conditioning — such as weightlifting, running drills and intra-squad scrimmaging — can be conducted but can’t include contact of any kind.


Do participants have to wear face coverings? Yes, all players and coaches must wear masks from the time they exit their vehicles or arrive on campus until they return to their vehicles or leave campus. Masks must be worn during conditioning, practice and competition.


Is my student academically eligible to participate in athletics? All students must be fully enrolled and passing the appropriate number of classes to participate. This means that students must be on-track to graduate and have passed 3 of 4 classes during the most recent grading period.  If you have questions about your student’s eligibility, please contact your high school’s athletic director and/or counselor. 


What’s best practice if a coach or student is not feeling well? Coaches or students who aren’t feeling well must not attend practice and should be referred to a medical provider for possible COVID-19 testing if they present with any of the following symptoms: fever, cough, difficulty breathing, shaking chills, chest pain, gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting or diarrhea), loss of taste or smell, sore throat, unusual rash or painful discoloration of the fingers or toes. Any coach or student who tests positive should immediately notify the athletic director or head coach, so the Columbia County Public Health Agency can be consulted and contract tracing can begin.


If a coach or student tests positive for COVID-19, will the entire team need to quarantine? That depends on the advice of public health officials. The District will notify players and their families of next steps.