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January 21, 2022

Covid-19 outbreak puts a damper on local prep and college sports

Several schools suffer postponements, cancellations due to virus protocols

A rise in Covid-19 cases throughout Santa Cruz County has put a halt to some collegiate and high school sports events in the area.

The Cabrillo men’s basketball team was supposed to begin its California Community College Athletic Association Coast Conference South Division season this week. But its first set of conference games against De Anza and West Valley colleges were postponed after a Seahawks’ player tested positive. 

“We are currently in covid protocols,” Cabrillo coach James Page said.

Page canceled practices for the remainder of the week. They hope to clear protocols in time for next week’s games against Hartnell and San Jose City colleges. 

Scotts Valley High postponed its athletic contests on Tuesday and Thursday and UC Santa Cruz’s men’s basketball game was also canceled.

Scotts Valley was scheduled to host Santa Cruz in girls soccer, play at Santa Cruz in boys soccer and had boys’ and girls’ basketball games scheduled at Santa Cruz on Jan. 3. The Falcons were also scheduled to take on Soquel in boys’ and girls’ soccer on Thursday.

“We did the right thing,” Scotts Valley Athletic Director Louie Walters said. “I feel with kids coming back from break and positive cases blowing up, [we’ll] shut down for the week.”

The Watsonville girls’ basketball team canceled its non-league game against North Salinas High. The Aptos girls’ soccer team had its Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League opener against Soquel High on Tuesday canceled after Knights’ players tested positive for Covid. 

Mariners coach Gina Castañeda, who is currently traveling with the Cal North’s Olympic Development Program, said it was unfortunate they had to postpone their league opener. She broke the news to the players, who were disappointed they didn’t get a chance to play.

“The new Covid strain is so contagious,” Castañeda said. “Coaching is more than playing to win games, it’s also managing your environment. Sadly for us, Covid has become part of that environment. It’s important we keep our players healthy and safe.”

Aptos’ wrestling team also had to back out of Wednesday evening’s SCCAL meet at Santa Cruz High. They were slated to compete against Soquel, but both teams backed out as a precaution.

“It’s unfortunate to say but this is nothing new to us,” Aptos Athletic Director Travis Fox said. “We’re still living through it.” 

Schools got some good news from the California Interscholastic Federation on Wednesday. They announced that it is temporarily suspending a bylaw that doesn’t allow student-athletes to compete on Sunday.

Due to the impact of the pandemic, the rule will remain suspended for the remainder of the 2022 winter sports season. Schools can mutually agree to use Sunday as a possible day to reschedule any postponed games, according to a press release issued on Jan. 5.

“That gives schools and leagues a bit more flexibility to try and make up games, especially in a sport like soccer because now we can have days in between games instead of having back-to-back nights,” Fox said. 

Fox said that each student and staff member in the Santa Cruz County Office of Education will receive two take-home Covid test kits. It’s not required but they’re giving them out for those who want one.

The California Department of Public Health announced an updated guideline for a player who tests positive for Covid-19.

“Number one goal is to get kids back in the classroom for the second semester and provide a safe space for in-person instruction,” Fox said. 

All signs point that local schools are anticipating adopting the new update, which will knock down the isolation period from 10 days to five. If a student-athlete is asymptomatic and tests negative, players can return with restricted mask usage.

Fox said the new guidelines are mostly in place to get kids back into the classroom rather than getting them back on the playing field. 

“We consider athletics the last class of the day but we know that kids need to be on campus for instruction,” he said. “That’s the number one goal, is to keep school going safely.”

*Additional reporting by Lucia Meza, special to the Press Banner

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