South Whidbey’s Jacob Ng goes to the hoop for the Falcons last season. This year’s basketball season is in jeopardy if COVID-19 numbers don’t improve. (Photo by John Fisken)

South Whidbey’s Jacob Ng goes to the hoop for the Falcons last season. This year’s basketball season is in jeopardy if COVID-19 numbers don’t improve. (Photo by John Fisken)

WIAA changes guidelines for starting school sports

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association revised its guidelines for school sports this week to fall in line with the new policies announced by the governor’s office and the Department of Health recently.

Up to this point, returning to play was based upon which phase a county reached in the four-phase Safe Start plan. Counties needed to be in Phase 3 or Phase 4 (depending on the risk level of a particular sport) for its schools to be eligible to start practices.

As of this week, no state counties were in Phase 4 and only a few, including Island, were in Phase 3.

The new guidelines replaced the phase system with the percentage of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents and the percentage of positive tests in a 14-day period to determine if schools within a county can compete.

The state set up a three-tiered system for its counties: high-, medium- and low-risk.

Schools in high-risk counties, 75 cases per 100,000 and greater than a 5 percent positive rate, can start practices in small groups and compete in low-risk sports: cross country, golf, swimming, tennis and track and field. No spectators will be allowed.

Schools in medium-risk counties, 25-75 cases and less than a 5 percent positive testing rate, can compete in medium-risk sports: baseball, soccer, softball, volleyball, gymnastics and bowling. Spectators will be limited to one guardian or parent per competitor.

Schools in low-risk counties, those with less than 25 cases per 100,000 and less than a 5 percent positive testing rate, will be allowed to compete in high-risk sports: basketball, football, wrestling, cheer and dance. Tournaments and spectators (following the Safe Start guidelines) will be allowed.

Island County, as of Monday, Oct. 5, had a 40.1 per 100,000 rate and 3.3 percent positive test rate. At this level, Coupeville, Oak Harbor and South Whidbey schools could compete in only medium- and low-risk sports.

The governor’s office also said this week that schools and community sports programs do not have the authority to implement more lenient policies. In addition, each individual sport’s return to play guidelines were updated in accordance with the governor’s new policies.

This summer the WIAA changed the traditional three-season school year into four shorter seasons. Because COVID-19 was still prevalent this fall, schools chose to move sports scheduled to compete in the first season (September through November) to later in the year.

The second season, which includes the traditional winter sports (basketball, wrestling and boys swimming) is set to begin practices Dec. 27.

The traditional fall sports (football, boys tennis, cross country, girls soccer, girls swimming, small school boys soccer and volleyball) begin in late February.

The traditional spring sports (baseball, golf, boys soccer, softball, girls tennis and track and field) start April 26.

More in Sports

Photo by Matt Simms
‘Scarves Up’ soccer tradition that in this case was done in honor of fallen teammate and friend Taylor Daniels. The scarves were specially made in tribute to Taylor and are inscribed with his name and jersey number and the saying ‘Forever a Falcon’. They were given to Taylor’s mother by Coach Fuss and to the rest of Taylor’s extended family by the players who then raised them over their heads in the ‘Scarves Up’ pregame tradition for a moment of silence to honor Taylor’s memory.
Scarves Up

Photo by Matt Simms Before Wednesday’s soccer match against Sultan, the South… Continue reading

Oak Harbor High School’s sailing team continued its winning ways Saturday with a victory against the Sehome Mariners. Photo by Shawn O’Connor
Oak Harbor Wildcat sailing team racks up wins against Bellingham, Sehome

The Oak Harbor Wildcats sailing team continued its perfect season this past weekend.

Falcons tennis looks to grow as a season advances

By Joseph Itaya For the South Whidbey Record In what has normally… Continue reading

Coupeville Track - Photo by John Fisken
Coupeville's track and field team kicked off spring sports Thursday, March 4. The Wolves hosted the Northwest 2B/1B League season opener at Mickey Clark Stadium.
Sports back on track for CHS

Coupeville Hight School’s Ja’Kenya Hoskins rounds the track during the season opener… Continue reading

Oak Harbor girls softball team members are allowed to workout together under current COVID-19 restrictions, but are not yet allowed to return to formal practices and competition. School sports may resume this month if Island County and others in the North region can move into Phase 2. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Athletic directors ‘cautiously optimistic’ for return of sports

School sports may be starting this month for Island County athletes if COVID-19 conditions are met.

Athletes create highlights in 2020 despite virus

Although COVID-19 threw a wrench in the sports world last spring, it… Continue reading

Seniors lead cross country teams through ever-changing season

Spurred by deep and talented senior classes, this year’s South Whidbey High… Continue reading

Point of impact: Sports play integral part of athletes’ personal development

(Note: When I returned to the Whidbey newspapers in 2009, then-editor Jim… Continue reading

good bye-teaser
Good bye — and thanks for allowing me to share my passion for sports

I doubt there is a person as ingrained in Oak Harbor High… Continue reading

soccer teaser
SW youth soccer overcomes challenges, but needs help in ’21

After having its spring season canceled, the South Whidbey Youth Soccer Club… Continue reading

DPSPS offers boating safety course

Registration is open for the virtual America’s Boating Course offered 9 a.m.… Continue reading

Hidden figures: Three supply decades of help at SW sporting events

On basketball game days at South Whidbey High School, the players, coaches,… Continue reading