COVID-19 and Winter Sports


Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel

Karyna Hetman

Throughout the entirety of the global pandemic, such few things have remained the same, making this new reality scary and unpredictable. Fortunately, sports for CVHS are still being held this year, bringing some normalcy into the lives of student athletes. The Virginia High School League (VHSL) has dedicated compressed timed slots for each season’s sports to be held, and December 7 starts the beginning of winter sports, with the first event being held December 21. The VHSL has put forth rules and regulations that will be enforced in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which will make each sport look a little bit different this year.

For one, athletes, coaches, officials, and spectators are required to wear masks at all times during practices and competitions. As of Thursday, December 10, VHSL updated their mask requirements so that athletes must wear masks even when in play. They advise sports that find it difficult to wear masks during performance will have to make adjustments accordingly. In addition to this, students follow through in a mandatory personal health screening daily upon arriving at school in which temperatures are taken and questions are asked regarding the occurrence of COVID-19 symptoms. 

The VHSL states that the most effective way to decrease exposure to respiratory droplets that speak COVID-19 is through social distancing, hence the modifications made to each sport. Accordingly, the number of spectators for both indoor and outdoor sports is limited to 30% of the venue’s capacity, which can be equivalent to about 25 spectators. “We want to make it very clear that the Governor’s order for reduction in public and private gatherings to 25 individuals applies to ‘spectators’ and not participants at those events,” VHSL Director of Communications, Mike McCall, clarifies. Spectators are to be seated 6 feet apart, which may require special seating arrangements, and are even discouraged from yelling or chanting (especially without a mask).

To keep up with proper sanitization, it is important that students are responsible for bringing their own gear, as well as washing it, now more than ever. Equipment that is shared amongst students will be strictly sanitized at every chance possible and necessary. It is also a requirement that hand sanitizer is easily accessible to all during any given event. Some more specific rules include the elimination of jump balls in basketball, expulsion of pre and post game handshakes, and even restriction of removing mouth guards without proper sanitization. 

This assortment of changes can be intimidating and makes for uncertainty amongst high school athletes. Kaya Squirewell, a senior playing basketball for Centreville High School, gives insight on her situation saying, “I feel good about the coming season although it will absolutely be different. Due to the precautions in place, we are required to always wear a mask unless we’re on the court, and on the sidelines the chairs are spread 6 feet apart.  Since the season could end any given day due to spikes in COVID-19, I’m cherishing whatever time I’ll have for my senior year”. It is a strong prediction that most student athletes feel the same way in that these times have taught us to be grateful for the opportunities given. Hopefully this is the making for a successful season for winter sports, full of good fortune and most of all -health!