SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota High School Activities Association put forth their Summer Contact plan in late May, allowing athletes and coaches to get back in the weight room. Now the board is preparing for a return to live sports this fall.
“We’re cautiously optimistic and I think our state is in a decent place right now, because we aren’t seeing those spikes that are going on in other parts of the country. We’re kind of waiting to see what is going to happen over the next few weeks and then throughout the year we are going to have to be monitoring that,” SDHSAA Executive Director Daniel Swartos said.
The SDHSAA created the Coronavirus Task Force which consists of 20 educators including athletic directors and superintendents. The task force has been given the difficult task of building a safe return to sports plan.
“Our number one question is of course safety and is it safe to do this? Looking through what we have for fall sports and activities and seeing which of those are low contact or high contact and low risk to high risk,” Swartos said.
Football, competitive cheer and competitive dance are in the high contact range, while golf and tennis are in the low risk categories.
Another idea created by the task force is to come up with a safe and efficient way to handle any positive cases that occur throughout the season.
“A standard screening procedure that all schools will use and a standard protocol for Department of Health close contacts in DOH confirmed tests and it gives a piece of mind, that if there is a confirmed close contact, if there is a confirmed case, that these are the procedures that go into place and these are the notifications that go around and everyone is on the same page,” Swartos said.
With the risk of a potential surge this fall, many state and nationals organizations have considered moving their fall sports. However, South Dakota will be looking for a different option.
“There are some states that are looking into maybe switching their spring and fall seasons. The worry with that is if you move track back to the fall, and then things go sideways here in the fall and you have to cancel it, now that’s two straight track seasons that have been canceled and that’s pretty tough for those kids,” Swartos said.
The SDHSAA understands that a potential surge this fall works out better than last spring’s surge, because it would happen early in the school year.
“We’ve got the whole school year to get these things in. If we decide to get everything started and there is some starts and stops in there, there is some shifting we can do with some of the winter and spring seasons, to finish out the fall season sports in the spring if we need to,” Swartos said.
While South Dakota waits to see what happens over the next month, they aren’t the only state playing the waiting game.
“I visit a lot with the director from North Dakota, the director from Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska and they are all kind of in the same boat that we’re at. They’re all cautiously optimistic about the fall and they’ll all be making those decisions around the same time as we are,” Swartos said.
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While there are decisions left to be made by the board, the goal of the SDHSAA stays the same.
“Our goal and our mission as always is to get kids active and to get them active mentally and to get them active physically. So that’s what we are going to do and it’s going to be a strange year, there might be some stops during it, but we’re going to do what we can, when we can to give these kids as many experiences as we can give them,” Swartos said.
The first official fall practice is planned for August 5.