Story by Hanna Bae
Associate Opinion Editor
Photo by Sophie Yeung
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health made a number of changes to the COVID protocols for organized youth sports on Monday, Jan. 3. These alterations were swiftly implemented by SPUSD and SPHS’ athletics department as stated in an email sent by the district on Tuesday, Jan 4.
LACDPH updated existing protocols with a minimum 7-day suspension of all team activities where there has been an outbreak of four or more cases over a 14-day period. LACDPH approval will also be required to resume activity on any sports team. SPUSD permits individual conditioning and skill-building during the suspension period as long as “everyone on the team complies fully with any individual isolation or quarantine orders that apply,” as outlined by LACDPH in an order of the health officer.
Numerous changes to mask protocols have also been made. All participants, coaches, referees, and other game officials are required to wear masks outdoors when working with moderate and high-risk sports teams, regardless of vaccination status.
For participants, masks are also required while on the sidelines, in team meetings, within locker rooms and weight rooms, and while actively practicing, when possible. Although previously outlined before the updates, participants may remove their masks for when they are actively eating or drinking, for water sports, gymnastics, competitive cheerleading, and wrestling. Spectators are highly recommended, but not required, to wear masks at outdoor events with less than 5,000 people. In all indoor settings, athletes, coaches, staff, and spectators must wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.
SPUSD encourages vaccination for all those who are 12 and older and those who are eligible to receive the booster shot. LACDPH also requires that for athletes whose vaccination status is not up to date, a weekly negative test must be presented in order to participate. Fully vaccinated individuals participating in outdoor sports are not required to test weekly unless there is a positive case among the players, coaches, and/or staff.
“I think these precautions are good for athletes and the weekly covid testing is especially convenient,” sophomore Olivia Alfonso, girls varsity basketball player, said. “For basketball, our season is around the corner, so it’s good to keep our players safe and healthy.”
Numerous indoor sports games were canceled and rescheduled during winter break for a variety of reasons. However, as of now, all official SPHS sports games will continue if deemed safe according to current county and district guidelines.