DOE guidelines allow athletic workouts, practices

HONOLULU — Student athletic program workouts and practices can start as early as today according to state Department of Education guidelines for safely restarting released Friday.

“It is essential to the physical and mental well-being of students that they be able to return to athletic activities,” said DOE Deputy Superintendent Phyllis Unebasami.

“This is the first step in our gradual approach to restarting high school athletics in Hawai‘i.”

The guidelines are aligned to the state Department of Health’s Guidance for Schools COVID-19 Learning Model Parameters, and are meant to be a guide for schools to use to ramp up athletic activities as appropriate.

Schools have the discretion to plan for a phased restarting of activities to ensure the health and safety of students and staff.

High schools must meet two criteria in order to be eligible to start athletic workouts and practices as early as today: They must be delivering either an in-person or blended learning model of instruction, and schools’ athletic activity must align with where their respective island falls with the DOH learning-model matrix, based on daily average COVID-19 cases and positivity rate.

As an example, Kaua‘i’s public high schools are still in a blended learning mode of education delivery. Island School is offering in-person instruction five days a week.

This puts the schools on a Phase 3 level for the DOH Learning Model Parameters that allow team workouts and practices for low- and moderate-risk sports in spite of the fact that Kaua‘i has a 0.1% positivity rate based on March 5 statistics.

The Phase 3 level also allows for contact and equipment.

The DOE also states that in addition to standard health and safety procedures, the following guidelines must be followed:

• Social-distancing and mask-wearing guidelines must be followed at all times;

• Pre-workout/practice screening must take place;

• Gathering limitations must be in accordance with state and county orders;

• Adequate cleaning schedules of facilities should be created and implemented for all athletic facilities to mitigate any communicable diseases;

• Equipment should be wiped down thoroughly before and after use;

• All students must bring their own water bottles. No hydration stations will be available.

The full copy of the “Return to Learn: School Reopening Plan – Guidance for Restarting Athletics” can be found at hawaiipublicschools.org/DOE%20Forms/Emergencies/2021RTL-Athletics.pdf.

The DOE plan applies to athletic workouts and practices only. The status of interscholastic competitions remains at the discretion of each island’s respective league association.

There was no comment available from the Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation at press time.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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