SAN ANTONIO – Some San Antonio-area school districts feel more prepared this year on how to handle COVID-19 cases when dealing with student athletes. Protocols have been set in place to ensure students don’t spread the virus.
Daryll Hemphill, assistant athletic director for Northside ISD, said trials and errors last year taught everyone some hard lessons.
“If we’re not careful, then nobody gets to [play]. So we’re really being very intentional and paying very close attention to what we do and how we do it,” Hemphill said.
He said students can’t afford to let their guard down and they’re going to need community support.
For some, it means changes to the routine of how drinking water is handled in the field -- no more drink or cup sharing. Masks are highly encouraged in the locker rooms, on the bus and athletes are urged to avoiding large gatherings.
Kelly Parker, executive director of athletics at NEISD, said it’s about educating students and parents.
“Try to get kids to understand it when they leave the coaches, they still need to be smart about what they’re doing and be real responsible about what they’re doing,” Parker said.
For some students playing in high school sports, band or ROTC will be the memory of their lifetime. For others, it will be a platform for college prospects.
“There are kids and they want to have fun playing the game, but for some of them it’s going to be their opportunity to make it to the next level,” Parker said.
Some students are already missing out. Hondo ISD and Sam Houston High School in SAISD cancelled games this week due to high COVID numbers.
Medical experts said the best way for student athletes to avoid getting sick is by getting vaccinated and getting tested weekly. Spectators who are sick or have symptoms are urged not to attend games if they are sick.
The plea is that parents lead by example.
“The bottom line is, just be responsible,” Parker said.
Some school districts are live streaming the games in order to encourage people to stay home.