Hart District officials creating safety plans for student-athletes

Signal file photo Canyon senior Sasha Thomas-Oakley spikes the ball in a league matchup with Valencia at Canyon High School earlier this year. The William S. Hart Union High School District is devising plans for a return of high school sports.

By Claire Cornelius
For The Signal

Local public high schools are expected to start up athletic summer camps July 6, with social distancing in mind and plans still in the works for how athletes will be able to compete in the 2020-21 school year.

The target date allows the William S. Hart Union High School District to fine tune how each school is going to implement procedures that meet guidelines set by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, district officials said Thursday.

A committee from the district is working on several contingencies for the reopening of campuses, said Linda Storli, board president for the Hart District, as well as consideration for the safest ways students can engage in activities that traditionally called for close quarters, from choir to football.

“Sports is a big piece of (schools reopening) because, as a teacher, I know that sports is a way that many kids are able to go to college,” Storli said, “and with sports shut down, it’s not going to be the same path for some of these kids.”

The current plan, as it stands, is intended to give parents enough time to register their children for athletics online and have them complete a physical exam. District officials also acknowledged the unprecedented challenges ahead, and, as Storli put it, the need to solve a puzzle in which “the pieces keep moving after you put them in place.”

These summer camps will enforce social distancing and allocate time for custodians to sanitize the gymnasiums between groups in the event that multiple sports practices fall upon the same day, Dave Caldwell, spokesman for the Hart District, said in a letter sent to Hart District families.

Camps may include “conditioning and/or skills and drills,” but competitions or tournaments are “most likely not to occur over the summer,” the letter stated.

District officials acknowledged there was some conflict between the national and state guidelines, but noted the overlying focus on social distancing as much as possible.

“The current Los Angeles County phases, (California Interscholastic Federation) phases, and (National Federation of State High School Associations) phases do not align, though the same terminology is used,” Caldwell said. “What they all seem to be in agreement on is that social distancing remains pertinent this summer, and we will adhere to those policies for all summer camps.”

Daily screenings that athletic trainers from Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital are helping put together will be present upon coming to practice, but accountability from each athlete will play a large part. Students who feel sick in any way are going to be responsible for staying home.

Online registration for summer camps begins on June 24, and will be available on each school’s website, according to the district.

— Signal Managing Editor Perry Smith contributed to this story.

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