Traditional fall school sports are already underway after two nontraditional school years.
Sports seasons returned to normal for the 2021-22 school year — so far — after the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association changed the schedule last year in an effort to accommodate COVID-19 safety guidelines.
All three Whidbey school districts played football Friday night on Sept. 3. Oak Harbor played Cedarcrest at home and the Wildcats won 28-12. The Coupeville Wolves lost to the Klahowya Secondary School Eagles in a home game, 42-39. The South Whidbey Falcons football team played an away game against the Friday Harbor Wolverines and won with a score of 26-13.
Football, volleyball, boys and girls cross country, girls soccer, 1B/2B boys soccer, slowpitch softball, girls swimming and diving began in August. Winter sports such as basketball will return to be played in the winter, and spring sports such as track and field will again happen in the spring, unlike last year.
Oak Harbor, the biggest school district on Whidbey, will compete in the Northwest Conference, which includes nearby schools of Anacortes, Bellingham, Burlington-Edison, Ferndale, Mount Vernon, and Sedro-Woolley, among others.
The Coupeville Wolves will compete against Concrete, Friday Harbor, La Conner, Mount Vernon Christian and Orcas Island, which are all part of the Northwest 1B/2B league.
South Whidbey students will play in the Emerald Sound 1A league, which includes King’s, Sultan, Granite Falls, University Prep and Cedar Park Christian, among other schools.
The state Department of Health has required schools to create screening testing protocols for athletes, coaches, trainers and other people working with athletes who are not fully vaccinated while participating in high-contact indoor sports this year.
Masking requirements change depending on the sport and the venue.
Masks are not required outdoors, and they are not required for athletes competing in low-contact or moderate-contact indoor sports regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or not.
If an athlete is fully vaccinated, he or she does not need to wear a mask while competing in high-contact indoor sports like basketball and wrestling. Unvaccinated athletes are also allowed to play unmasked if they participate in screening testing.
The state Department of Health describes screening testing as a molecular or antigen test twice weekly. All unvaccinated athletes should do a test three or four days before or after a competition. In the second test, all unvaccinated athletes need to do a rapid antigen test within 24 hours of competition, and multi-day events should have tested before each competition.
Any athlete who tests positive for COVID-19 must be excluded from the sporting event and leave the venue.
Masks are required when athletes are indoors when they are not practicing or competing. All fans attending indoor sports activities must wear a mask regardless of their vaccination status.
Everyone from the athletes to the coaches to support people is required to wear a mask while they are in weight rooms, regardless of vaccination status, because the state deems them “high-risk indoor settings.”