Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Feb. 20, 2021 — What the California decree means, and what it doesn’t

Yesterday, California governor Gavin Newsom issued updated guidelines for youth and some adult sports for the state, all of which fall under state and local health department guidelines as to the number and frequency of positive cases.

The changes go in a positive direction when it comes to the restart of CIF athletics, which were supposed to have started a month ago for fall teams which have seen their original schedules postponed, then postponed again because of December’s update in the face of a rapid spread of COVID-19 cases, especially in the three areas where field hockey is played — the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

For the purposes of this blog, we’re focusing on girls’ lacrosse and field hockey, which are red-tiered activities, meaning that these are outdoor sports with moderate contact. These sports and others may be played with a number of caveats and requirements. The first and most important condition is that the county in which the school is present must have had a positive COVID rate of under 14 per 100,000 people. As of yesterday, only 19 out of 58 California counties meet that standard.

However, we’ll know more on Tuesday, when new numbers on countywide COVID-19 testing rates are revealed. It is possible that, given a substantial lowering of coronavirus numbers in the last six weeks, that high-school sports may start up in many more counties as soon as this Friday.

Once games start up, there will be a handful of changes. While players won’t be wearing masks on the pitch, they will be required on the sidelines and in the stands for spectators.

In addition, the COVID-19 rules allow only very limited competition amongst teams from other parts of the state. Teams cannot cross a county border to play another team unless that county’s schools are in the permissible level of positive Coronavirus cases, and out-of-state competition is prohibited.

Moreover, multi-team tournaments are prohibited, and teams are not allowed to play more than one contest in a day, which effectively cancels the 2020 Serra Invitational, one of the longest running in-season field hockey tournaments in the country.

There is one other proviso for play, however. As is the case in at least one other location, parents are being asked to sign consent forms in order to allow their children to play.

One interesting wrinkle to this situation is this proviso: once a county shows a positivity rate of under 14 per 100,000 residents, and a team starts its season, that season is not required to be interrupted or cancelled if the positivity rate goes higher than that threshold.

So, I guess we’ll be waiting until Tuesday to see who gets to play high-school sports, and where.

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