PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — It’s no secret the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted many areas of our lives. For student-athletes, it’s no different.
A year ago, many went without playing at all and seasons were called off. Just this past fall, teams struggled with rescheduling, and in some cases, canceling games.
It’s been nearly three months since four local school districts announced that all student-athletes would need to get the COVID vaccine or undergo weekly testing. Now that the deadline to submit vaccine records has passed, here’s a look at where each district stands.
“In athletics, we have to adapt and overcome in the game. We want to get back to whatever normal is going to be,” said Kevin Cole.
Cole oversees student activities and facilities at Chesapeake Public Schools. The district announced in September that its winter athletes must be vaccinated or tested for COVID each week. As of the start of the winter season, about 66% of their high school athletes are fully vaccinated.
“We haven’t really seen any impact in students not wanting to participate. They’ve missed that day-to-day contact with either teammates or their coaches,” Cole explained.
At Virginia Beach City Public Schools, just under 76% of high school winter athletes are fully vaccinated. At Portsmouth Public Schools, 62% are fully vaccinated and 72% at Suffolk Public Schools.
“I think it goes beyond the impact of the athletes because it also impacts the spirit of the students. They look forward to the games,” said Trudy Jelderks.
For those athletes who’ve chosen to get tested each week, Trudy Jelderks, the program administrator for health services at Chesapeake Public Schools, told 10 On Your Side schools have it down to a science. The testing process takes mere minutes.
“As soon as the kids arrive at school that day, they swing through the clinic, they get their testing done and they go about their normal day,” Jelderks stated.
Jelderks explains the district will get the results within 24 hours.
“We’re able to identify, look, evaluate who’s positive and make necessary adjustments,” Jelderks explained.
An added layer of protection after a season of postponed games, quarantine and missing out, that Jelderks and Cole say so far has been working.
“We’re catching them early and therefore we’re not impacting the students, the schools and the community,” Jelderks said.
The goal, Cole says, is to get athletes back on the floor, in the pool, on the mat, and to compete for their high school.
Although Norfolk Public Schools does not require winter athletes to get the shot, the district is keeping a record of the students who have. 46% of winter athletes in the city are fully vaccinated.
Hampton City Schools and Newport News Public Schools do not require student-athletes to get vaccinated and aren’t keeping a record of those who are.