District quickly changes COVID guidelines for athletes, coaches

Only athletes in indoor sports required to prove status

Two days after announcing that all athletes and coaches must provide proof of vaccination or submit to twice weekly COVID-19 testing, the district reversed course on Tuesday September 21, and changed its guidelines to require only those playing indoor sports.

The San Ramon Valley Unified School District originally announced new guidelines in an email sent Sunday, September 19, that said they were in accordance with Contra Costa Health Services. But county health services position was that it is only highly recommended for outdoor athletes to follow these guidelines.

“I understand [the new mandates], but I also think outdoor sports should get tested,” senior varsity volleyball player Sydney Simmons said. “They’re still going to school with us, so everyone is still around them.” 

Fall athletes received an email Tuesday evening that indicated that those who play indoor sports must submit proof of vaccination or undergo rapid twice-weekly COVID-19 testing, which began on campus Wednesday.

The only fall sports athletes and coaches required to follow these guidelines and wear masks at all times are those on the volleyball team because that is the only indoor sport right now. The members of the volleyball team have been wearing masks since they began playing last spring.

“The new rules are appropriate because they’re keeping everyone safe,” Simmons said.

Many outdoor athletes will be required to follow these guidelines as well starting next week if they plan to workout indoors in any on-campus facility, such as the weight room.

“The district decided to update their testing policy, so the schools passed it along to the students,” Cal High athletic director Chris deClercq wrote in an email. “I think we would all like the guidance to come out and stay the same, but unfortunately the reality is things are changing and the district will continue to follow the guidance of the county.”

 The Californian received no reply to an email to the district office asking for further clarification about changing its original guidelines.

School sites will provide access to rapid COVID-19 testing on Mondays and Wednesdays. Students who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic are not required to test, according to the district’s original email. Testing also is not recommended for asymptomatic people who test positive for COVID-19 within the past 90 days.

Indoor athletes who aren’t vaccinated, or if their vaccination status is unknown, may encounter some problems with this new requirement because of contact tracing rules, which require them to quarantine at home for a week depending on their level of exposure. Athletes who are exposed to a teammate or are unmasked themselves when in contact with someone testing positive must quarantine at home for 10 days, or for seven days if a negative COVID test is provided, according to county guidelines.

“I think [the new mandates] make sense because there have been some cases throughout the system,” varsity volleyball player Haley Carlson, a junior, said.

Cal High had 19 reported cases of students testing positive for COVID-19 as of Friday morning, September 17, according to the district’s COVID dashboard. San Ramon Valley has 25, Monte Vista 24 and Dougherty Valley only five.

If guidelines remain unchanged, this new requirement will only affect the men’s and women’s basketball and wrestling teams, which compete indoors, during the winter season. The only other winter sports are men’s and women’s soccer, which compete outdoors. Those athletes would be required to follow the new guidelines only if they use indoor training or workout facilities on campus. 

The district email sent Sunday also indicated that there are plans to expand testing to all indoor extra-curricular activities that meet after school. This could begin as early as next week.

 “I would assume [the guidelines] will change, probably several times, because as the letter that went home said the SRVUSD follows the guidelines put out by the county department of health,” deClercq wrote. “The county is constantly updating their guidance based on trends they see in the county.”  

Many athletes have expressed their appreciation of the new guidelines, saying that it makes them feel safer.