There will be no boys football or girls basketball on the high school athletic calendar this fall.
Those two traditional fall sports are not permitted under Phase 3 of the province’s framework for reopening because they involve prolonged or deliberate contact. These sports, however, do have return-to-train status in Rainbow Schools, which means skill-based training can take place under approved guidelines.
Dave Makela, athletic administrator for Sudbury District Secondary Schools’ Athletic Association, said the executive is now tasked with the challenge of trying to find another place for those seasons on the athletic calendar, but it’s a challenge he said they are up for.
Sports that are allowed to be played this fall, albeit with a lot of changes in store, are flag football, golf, cross-country running, volleyball and baseball.
Rainbow District School Board and Sudbury Catholic District School Board will be participating in those sports, Makela said, while both French-language school boards won’t.
“With safety first and foremost, students in Rainbow schools will soon be participating in sports again,” said Nicole Charette, a spokesperson for the board.
Physical activity and sport are an effective way to promote mental health and physical well-being, she said.
“For this reason, we have been working with the Sudbury District Secondary Schools’ Athletic Association on the safe delivery of sports approved for competition by their respective provincial sports organizations and public health. Health and safety will guide decision making as each sport opportunity is considered.”
A meeting was held prior to the start of the school year to discuss the fate of high school sports in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Makela said all 18 schools in the association were represented, and passed a unanimous motion to plot the way forward.
The first requirement was to receive approval from the relevant director of education, and then to get approval from Public Health Sudbury and Districts.
“With that in place, we felt we could safely implement what was approved by Public Health, and that’s where we are right now,” Makela said.
This week is dedicated to coaches meetings to discuss the details surrounding the return-to-play protocols each of the provincial sport organizations put forward, and the health unit support of each activity is contingent upon adherence to those protocols, Makela said.
“It means a lot of changes to what we would consider a normal season, such as a lower number of teams, a lower number of games, and staying within the government-mandated cohorts of 50 indoors and 100 outdoors, as well as mask use, no mass starts in cross-country running, assigned tee times for golf,” he said. “It means a lot of different things for each sport, and that’s what we’re going through this week.”
The hope is to start up with some golf matches next week, with their championship slated for Oct. 8. Makela said it looks like flag football might also be starting next week, “but we’re still in the draft schedule stage.”
There are some hockey programs that will begin training within the next few weeks, with the premise being there won’t be any competition on the horizon right now.
“I think we’ve taken all the necessary steps to ensure student safety,” Makela said. “I think we’ve satisfied all the requirements we said we would before we proceed, and we’re happy to see some sports starting.”
As always, health and safety remains the top priority as we look to offer as many sport opportunities as possible to students in Rainbow Schools, said Charette.
“As the pandemic progresses, we will continue to monitor the situation along with the Sudbury District Secondary Schools’ Athletic Association (SDSSAA) and respond accordingly.”