Sports this school year are very different from the past school year because of COVID. There have been many new rules athletes have to follow in order to practice in a school sport.
After canceling all school sports during the spring of 2020, Durham Public Schools (DPS) brought them back during the 2020-21 school year, but with protocols.
DPS athletic director David Hackney worked with coaches, school-based athletic directors and central office to develop the protocols.
Some of the guidelines that are being followed this school year are testing the athletes weekly and requiring masks inside school buildings. Athletes and coaches are also required to wear masks outdoors when they’re on the sidelines and on buses while traveling to and from games. DPS encourages student athletes to get vaccinated but does not require it.
There have been some situations where teams have had to be quarantined because, despite the measures, players have tested positive for COVID. Others were exposed to someone who tested positive, according to Hackney, who taught social studies and coached football and women’s basketball at Riverside earlier in this career.
”We have had some situations where teams had to be quarantined because student athletes have acquired COVID,” he said
Despite the positive cases, Hackney does not believe additional measures are necessary right now.
“I think what we have established now is working,” he said. “I think last year we implemented very strict guidelines and policies.Coaches, athletic directors and our players have done an excellent job following the protocols.”
Ryan Weaver is a senior on Riverside’s swim team. He has been on the team for all four years and won a state championship in 2020. He said the protocols changed the way teammates worked together.
“A lot of restrictions were put in place so it was kind of hard to interact with teammates, “ Weaver said. “ [We had] very specific rules that had to be enforced 24/7. You had to wear masks no matter what even if you are vaccinated”
Keyvin Cena has played for the men’s varsity soccer team for two years. He didn’t feel the protocols affected his sport as much as Weaver.
“Like any other year, I was focused more on the game than worrying about getting COVID,” said Cena, who is vaccinated but still has to follow all the protocols. “It doesn’t really feel different because we barely wore a mask in practice and played with no mask”.
Outdoor sports like soccer had some different guidelines they had to follow. Weaver and Cena agree, however, that the protocols the district implemented helped keep the teams safe.
“I felt safe because, for the most part, everybody had their masks on,” Cena said.
“I believe we follow the protocols very well,” Weaver said.