WCSD updates reopening plan
Sports programs in Warren County School District have been under a shroud of uncertainty for months.
Last week, expanded masking requirements placed another hurdle in the path, but it looks like fall sports and marching band activities will begin soon.
In the spring, sports programs were put on hold, postponed, and eventually canceled upon the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since then, there have been concerns about fall sports.
Last week, the school board approved a sports reopening plan. With that plan in hand, Supervisor of District-Wide Athletics Rich Gignac started to meet with athletic directors and coaches to explain the rules and guidelines before organized team activities could begin.
Some programs had conditioning lined up to start last week.
Then, on Wednesday, Gov. Tom Wolf announced new, expanded masking requirements.
That caused the district to put a hold on practices.
“We hit pause until all the direction came out,” Superintendent Amy Stewart said.
Enough additional direction came through on Monday that administrators have updated the language in the reopening plan. The changes accommodate the new masking rules and should help smooth the way for any restrictions that could come up later. Practice activities could start for some programs as early as today.
Director of Administrative Support Services Gary Weber passed along a copy of the modifications to the sports reopening plan on Monday.
“The use of masks for the Warren County School District Resocialization of Sports plan has been modified due to the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Governor Wolf’s announcement on July 1,” Weber said. “To comply with the new state requirements for wearing masks when in public, all student-athletes and coaches are required to wear a mask while on school property and NOT directly engaged in physical activity. This also applies to off-campus workout locations.”
“Coaches are permitted to remove their mask when coaching/speaking at a distance that upholds the social distancing guidelines,” he said. “It is the responsibility of the head coach for each team to communicate this to all athletes and coaches that participate in voluntary off-season workouts and require all program participants to comply.”
If those changes meet with approval from District Solicitor Chris Byham, sports will be able to move forward, Weber said.
Stewart said Warren Area High School and Youngsville High School athletic directors and some coaches have met with Gignac and are ready to start activities if Byham finds the changes are appropriate.
In addition to meeting with Gignac, coaches are expected to meet with parents and students to detail the guidelines and requirements before activities may begin.
Eventually, the rules will have to change if sports are to be held.
In order to be game-ready, “at some point, the kids have to be hands-on,” Stewart said. “We’re going to see more flexibility.”