VUSD athletes get ready for season 

Jermaine Johnson II

Visalia Unified begins conditioning athletes in small groups for late fall sports season

VISALIA – At this point last year, fall sport teams across the Central Valley were wrapping up the regular season and getting ready for the playoffs. This year, teams in Visalia are just now beginning their conditioning.

Back in July, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) and the Central Section announced that the 2020-2021 season will be modified, with fall sports being pushed back to mid-winter. On Oct. 1, the Visalia Unified School District (VUSD) began outdoor athletic conditioning under the following conditions:

  • Daily pre-participation COVID-19 health checks
  • Individuals perform a temperature check at home before coming to practice (VUSD will provide thermometers to families as needed)
  • COVID-19 forms completed daily by each cohort coach for contact tracing purposes.
  • Athletic cohorts (or groups) consist of no more than 16 participants, including the coach.
  • Coaches may not be assigned to more than one athletic cohort.
  • Outdoor conditioning/activity must follow air quality guidelines, which may change frequently.
  • Pools, gyms, and weight rooms will remain closed at this time.
  • All individuals must wear masks (except during physical activity).
  • All individuals must maintain at least six feet of social distancing.
  • Athletes must bring their own water containers, no shared water.
  • All shared equipment must be wiped down by a trained adult between uses.

The district felt it necessary for athletes to begin conditioning to mitigate injury risk when the season finally returns. All students participating in fall sports who are interested in conditioning are allowed to do so at their respective high schools. The coach in each cohort is responsible for asking athletes if they’ve completed their health checks. Coaches and athletes must stay in the same cohort and can’t mix with other groups. If any person has any symptoms related to COVID-19, they are not allowed to participate until clearance is granted by a doctor.

Due to the ongoing fires around the Central Valley, air quality is being monitored. Poor air quality led to the first two days of conditioning being canceled. Now that fall sports have began their conditioning, VUSD is now working on bringing back visual and performing arts groups. That will possibly happen once those groups have developed a plan that follow similar guidelines as the sport teams.

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