On Friday, March 13th Governor Wolf gave the order to close Pennsylvania schools due to COVID-19. With that came a mandate from the PIAA to suspend what was left of the 2019-2020 winter sports season which included the 2020 Swimming and Diving Championships. Then, on April 9th the PIAA officially cancelled spring sports for Pennsylvania athletes due to the Coronavirus. For the past three and a half months, the Saucon Valley School District campus has been a ghost town of sorts.
Two weeks ago Governor Wolf gave the green light for school gates to open for athletes providing that each school district creates its own health and safety plan that aligns with CDC and and Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines. So, in collaboration with St. Luke’s University Health Network, Saucon Valley’s Director of Athletics, Bob Frey completed a four-phased plan that will gradually ease all Saucon Valley student-athletes back onto campus. Known as the Saucon Valley Athletics Resocialization Plan, our local school board, unanimously voted this past Tuesday to adopt the return to play safety plan that is currently posted on the school website.
The wait has now come to a close for high school fall athletes as far as voluntary workouts on campus are concerned. Granted, there will be many restrictions including social distancing requirements, temperature screenings and limited use of the facilities, but this is the first step on the long road back to normalcy in high school sports. Designed using two-week intervals, Saucon Valley’s four-phased plan will begin on Monday, June 29.
“Phase I” of the plan extends from Monday, June 29 thru July 12. It is, of course, the most restrictive part of the overall plan and only allows for small “pods” of high school athletes who are competing in a fall sport to use the outdoor facilities while on campus. Volleyball is the exception as that program will be permitted usage of the high school gymnasium. Strict social distancing guidelines including daily temperature checks and the wearing of masks while on campus are required. While engaged in athletic activity students can drop the masks, but will need to wear them at all other times. All coaches are required to wear a mask at all times. Workouts for each pod are limited to three days per week and one hour per day. During Phase I students cannot share any equipment including balls and are not allowed to congregate before or after the workouts. In addition to specific drop-off and pick-up protocols, students are required to bring their own filled water bottle from home.
If any student fails an entry screening by Saucon Valley trainers then that particular pod would be shut down at least until the student in question is tested and can prove a negative result. A positive COVID test will have an entire pod shut down for at least fourteen days. Anyone who tests positive will require a physician’s release before returning to campus. In addition, those who do not follow each of the rules outlined in the plan will be prohibited from attending the workouts. It is critical that students follow all rules.
“The phased approach will allow us to begin with a small group of students and limited equipment use and permit us to adjust procedures as needed before we expand to a larger group of students”.
Saucon Valley Director of Athletics, Bob Frey
The remaining subsequent phases each slightly loosen restrictions and ultimately make a gradual and deliberate transition toward the official PIAA fall sports season which is scheduled to begin in mid-August. Restrictions and dates within the plan are subject to change based on local and state guidelines.
For more information about Saucon Valley Athletics including 2020-2021 sports registration and PIAA Physical information, check out the following link!
Stay safe Panthers, the Source is with you!