Portland Public Schools New COVID Sports Protocols Sends Ripple Effect Across The Valley

Portland — In the wake of Portland Public Schools (PPS) announcing their tightening of protocols due to the ongoing COVID case surge in Oregon, several schools and districts have followed suit with their own new protocols. On Tuesday, Marist Catholic in Eugene announced that only home spectators would be allowed into their events, shutting out Woodburn fans from their basketball game Tuesday. On Friday, the Sam Barlow School District, Woodburn School District, and Salem-Keizer School District all announced new tightening in the wake of the case surge. While none of these districts are as strict as PPS, they are a ripple effect of Oregon’s largest school district drawing first blood on the matter at hand.

The Sam Barlow School District announced that spectators would be limited to four for Barlow athletes and two for visiting athletes, no concession stands will be available, outside food/drink is prohibited, band/cheer/dance are banned from games, and masks are required for spectators, players, and coaches on sidelines or in the stands. Woodburn has limited spectators to those with allocated tickets to the event, with no specifics on whether visitors are allowed to have fans at the events. Concessions are closed as well, and there’s no clarity on the participation of students, cheerleaders, or band members at games. These are among the strictest to be announced at this point, with many more likely to continue falling out into the weekend and next week. Salem-Keizer is a bit more flexible with their new protocols, allowing cheerleaders and band members to still attend games while limiting the number of fans that each individual can have at the event to four. There’s no word on concessions or student sections in the released protocols from Salem-Keizer.

These are four examples of what things are beginning to take shape as we continue into 2022, a sad reminder of the chaos that we dealt with back in early 2021 when sports first returned in Oregon. All of these protocols will be reevaluated at the end of January, but it certainly makes things complex for students, parents, athletes, and media alike as we navigate this latest hurdle in a pandemic that has stretched for almost two years. With the State of Oregon putting pressure on districts, it’s easy to place blame on leaders for making decisions that they’re essentially under fire to do from our state government. In the end, the best interest of students must come first, but what is in their best interest depends upon who you ask or discuss it with. We’re pretty tired and over this pandemic, but nothing is going away anytime soon and it’s just the reality we’re handed as we continue to follow this insanity as it unfolds before our eyes.

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