COVID-19 screenings, recommendations on mask use, all part of back to sports and fine arts in Sioux Falls School District

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Health and safety screenings will be required for fall sports participation in the Sioux Falls School District, according to the school district’s Ready To Learn Plan for sports and fine arts.

Fine arts participants will also need to check in and be screened but the plan outlines more specific details for athletes.

The district’s school board approved starting fall sports and fine arts on Tier 3 Monday night. Tier 3 is one of four tiers of operation for sports and fine arts. Tier 1 is the most restrictive and no practice of events for sports and no outside practice or events for fine arts. Tier 4 is the least restrictive as sports and fine arts function as normal. The tiers address various aspects of the coronavirus pandemic and participation.

The screenings will glean information such as temperature if the person has had close contact with a person under quarantine and similar data. If the student-athlete has a temperature or a symptom and lives in an area “with high (substantial) community transmission, the student will be excluded “until test result is negative or if untested, at least 10 days since symptom onset (and 24 hours without fever AND symptoms improved,)” the plan said.

As of Aug. 11, the Sioux Falls area is a community with high or substantial community transmission of COVID-19. The percentage positive rate is 12% in the Sioux Falls area, according to the city of Sioux Falls COVID-19 update on the website. The Sioux Falls area has 180 active COVID-19 cases per 100,000 capita.

As to living in an area of high/substantial community transmission, the plan said “The District will monitor the level of transmission and will update this form when we are no longer in substantial transmission.” The information is highlighted with a checkmark on the plan.

“The Department of Health has indicated that we are in an area of substantial community transmission, which is the cause for the checkmark. We will continue to work closely with the SD Department of Health and other local health officials to determine when we would no longer be in such a category and can remove the checkmark,” Carly Uthe of school district’s communications staff said on Aug. 10.

The specific screening requirement for fall sports participation includes athletes and others. The plan reads “All coaches, managers, statisticians, cheerleaders, student-athletes, team personnel, event staff, medical staff, officials, and media participating in Sioux Falls School District supported athletics will be screened for possible illness prior to, but not limited to, workout, practice, meeting, event, etc. ”

Close contact risks for COVID-19 are those who identified as a close contact to a confirmed COVID-19 case (15 minutes or more within 6 feet or less), had close contact with a person under quarantine, traveled to or lived in an area where large numbers of COVID-19 are reported (new cases exceed rate of 100 cases per 100,000 population in the past week) or live in areas of high (substantial) community transmission while the school remains open, according to the plan.

Face coverings are encouraged for most athletes, fine arts participants and spectators at events but based on the plan, the only people required to wear a mask are athletic trainers who are working with athletes. The athlete is encouraged to wear a mask but not required to do so.

Players on the volleyball sidelines will be encouraged to wear face coverings.

However, based on South Dakota High School Activities Association, football players are not allowed to wear face coverings as they affect the “legality of and ability to properly wear chin straps and
mouthguards. The NFHS SMAC will be releasing additional guidance on this matter soon,” the SDHSAA website said. The activities association said, “face masks with integrated visors that connect to the entirety of the mask may be worn, as long as the visor is 100% clear and free of tint.”

Also, there will be no high fives, fist bumps or handshakes for Sioux Falls School District athletes this school year, according to the school district’s plan.

The second tier allows for practices, events and specified events attendance for sports. Limited attendance does not allow for adult spectators. Sports will be allowed limited travel.

The second tier for fine arts allows for practice and events but no spectators.

Tier three includes the four ticket maximum for each player in sports and limited attendance for fine arts. High school students can attend sports events under this tier.

Tier four is the least restrictive and all sports operate as normal. Fine arts is expected to follow social distancing guidelines used in the classroom.

This fall, face coverings are encouraged for fine arts participation in activities such as marching band, debate and choir.

Band and marching band participants are expected to wear face masks and social distancing during rehearsals is expected. The plan specificies a type of face covering for students who play wind instruments.

The plan acknowledges that students may need to play without a mask and then, the mask should rest on the chin. Participants should avoid talking without a mask.

Spit valves when inside should be drained onto a puppy training mat or some other absorbent material and disposed of following rehearsal, according to the plan.

Choir participants should also wear face coverings but they aren’t required. The plan said, “students should be seated in rows facing the same direction with at least three foot spacing, rather than in
arcs.”

Guidelines for fine arts also include other social distancing measures and similar expectations for practice and performance.

Whether it’s marching band or football, students should not be drinking from water troughs or the same water bottle.

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