A number of La Crosse area schools are likely to adopt a more regional approach to the fall sports season in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MVC commissioner Steve Hole said after a Zoom meeting Friday with MVC athletic directors, Coulee Conference representatives and officials from the La Crosse County and Monroe County health departments.
“For most of our sports, I would say they are going to be mostly just in conference,” Hole said.
One of the reasons for that, he said, is the condensed time frame teams will have to play — particularly football — after the WIAA Board of Control voted Thursday to push back the fall season start dates. Health officials also recommended that schools stay as local as possible for competition if the season is able to go forward.
Among other items discussed at the meeting were the level of risk for each fall sport, how the county COVID-19 compass will impact sports and protocol for if team members test positive for the virus.
Hole said they agreed that golf and tennis are low-risk sports, football is high risk, and the rest — cross country, soccer, volleyball and swimming and diving — are moderate risk.
If a county compass is in the red, or severe risk, teams in that county will not be able to practice or compete, Hole said. He also said there has been discussion on what sports will be able to participate when the compass is in the orange (high risk) or yellow (moderate risk), but no decision has been finalized.
“Depending on what (risk) category you’re in and what the color is, there’s going to be competitions allowed for some sports and not others, which is kind of the purpose of having the different levels,” Hole said.
Even if sports are able to be played, the virus is sure to impact teams. Hole said if a team member tests positive for COVID-19, that person and anyone in direct contact with them will have to quarantine.
“If a member of a team tests positive, pretty much the whole team is going to have to quarantine for 14 days,” he said. “... I don’t think it’s real likely that a sport is going to start and go uninterrupted to the finish.”
Hole said there was no discussion on how a positive test could affect other teams that had possibly come in contact with that person during a competition, though he thinks the quarantine would likely extend to them.
Although there is still plenty of uncertainty surrounding the fall season, Hole hopes it will be able to proceed and would prefer playing fall sports in the fall instead of the spring, which the WIAA said it would permit. But if the fall isn’t an option because of local restrictions, Hole said teams would embrace playing in the spring.
Hole said the WIAA is working on a tentative plan for how fall sports would look if played in the spring and that the prevailing sentiment from the people he’s talked to is to simply provide athletes the opportunity to play — and to do so safely.
“The No. 1 concern for everybody that was at the meeting today is the safety of everybody — athletes, coaches, parents, everybody,” Hole said. “But that being said, we also want to try and get creative as possible so the kids get the opportunity to play. What that’s going to entail, we just don’t know at this time.”
If given local clearance, girls golf, girls tennis, girls swimming and diving and boys and girls cross country can begin practice Aug. 17. The earliest football, boys soccer and boys and girls volleyball can start practice is Sept. 7.
Girls golf can begin competitions on Aug. 20, girls tennis on Aug. 21, cross country and girls swimming and diving on Aug. 25 and boys soccer and volleyball on Sept. 15. Football games can be scheduled as early as Sept. 23, if the first practice is held Sept. 7.
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