VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach City Public Schools has decided to continue with the varsity winter sports season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
After “extensive research, discussion, and consideration,” administrators say they’ve decided to move ahead with the upcoming winter sports season in accordance with the Virginia High School League (VHSL).
Tryouts will begin as soon as Wednesday, Jan. 6.
However, the latest decision carries several changes to traditional sports program in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
“Of course, the health and well-being of our students and staff are of utmost importance,” VBCPS spokesperson Sondra Woodward wrote in a letter to the VBCPS community.
In addition to the guidance from the VHSL, the VBCPS Office of Student Leadership has also made additional changes including limiting the size of teams and prohibiting spectators at competitions.
These new changes include:
- Varsity team sizes in each winter sport will be limited and consistent for all schools.
- Spectators will not be permitted to attend contests due to the governor’s restriction on the size of gatherings. However, all games held in high school gymnasiums will be available to watch via an internet live stream. Students, parents, staff, and community members may purchase a monthly or annual subscription to gain access to the games.
- Junior varsity coaches will be asked to assist varsity coaches, thereby lowering the athlete coach ratio and allowing for coaching in smaller groups.
- Practices may begin as early as Wednesday, Jan. 6. Regular season schedules will be revised and released shortly to accommodate a more condensed season.
- Individual health screenings, conducted by the certified athletic trainer (ATC), are required for all coaches and athletes before entering the school facility for practice, games, treatment, etc. Documentation of all such checks must be kept with the ACT and/or student activities coordinator and are subject to administrative review.
- Regular season contests will be scheduled against Beach District schools only and participation in invitational tournaments has been prohibited by the VHSL. Post-season contests may take place against non-Beach District teams based on VHSL postseason qualification requirements.
- Beach District athletes MAY NOT participate on non-school teams during their season. Doing so places their teammates, coaches, and other Beach teams in greater jeopardy of exposure. This policy is in place until further notice.
- Any confirmed exposure of a member of the team will likely lead to quarantine and cancellation of practice, and it may lead to further cancellations due to the close physical proximity dictated by sports participation.
- A positive COVID determination of an athlete or coach MUST be reported to OSL and may result in the restriction of participation of other athletes, the athlete’s team, and other teams for a portion or remainder of the winter season.
- Disregard for the school division’s outlined safety protocols may result in the termination of the season for violators, as determined by the OSL.
- No games may be canceled without the prior consent of the OSL.
- Plans are underway to allow conditioning programs to resume for fall sports athletes in mid-January.
The health protocols set by the Virginia High School League (VHSL) can be viewed here.