Philomath High School Reader Board
Philomath High School (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Earlier in the week, the state released new metrics that changed guidance going out to school districts and Philomath has opted to launch hybrid learning for K-3 students on Tuesday. Those in grades 4-5 are projected to get into classrooms on Feb. 9.

The dates for when middle school and high school students return to their respective buildings for hybrid learning have not yet been released. There are more complex logistics to figure out.

However, it should be noted that the guidelines for sports are not tied to a school’s instruction model. They are based on Benton County’s COVID-19 risk level, which is currently in the extreme category.

As of now, that means all except the full-contact sports programs can practice and compete. The OSAA “Season 2” sports that are scheduled to run from Feb. 22-April 10 include football, volleyball, soccer and cross-country.

Out of those fall sports, soccer and cross-country can be involved in activities because they are outside (but there is a maximum of 50 people and that includes participants, coaches, officials, event management, fans).

Technically, volleyball teams could be practicing but only if they’re outside (not likely in the middle of winter). The extreme risk designation does not allow indoor practices. Football players could be involved in training and conditioning activities, but full contact is prohibited.

If the county moves down into the high risk category, indoor practices are allowed but with a maximum of 25% occupancy or 50 people, whichever is smaller. So, volleyball could get some work in the gym with precautions in place.

For now, restrictions out of the governor’s office and Oregon Health Authority prohibit full-contact sports. Besides football, that list also includes wrestling and basketball. Cheerleading and dance/drill are also prohibited if there’s contact involved, but those activities could take place with no contact worked into routines.

What does it all mean?

From what I’m reading in terms of K-12 school sports guidance, I’d say we have a decent chance of seeing soccer and cross-country start up on Feb. 22. Capacity limits could factor into the picture depending on the county’s risk level.

To me, volleyball is possible but it’s based on whether we move out of the extreme risk category in time. Again, capacity limits could come into play.

As for football, I’m thinking a lot has to happen in the next few weeks for football to be realistic. I just don’t know … seems to be in doubt at this time.

That’s my take. I’ll reach out to PHS in the coming days for its perspective on the situation.