Vermillion High School implemented safety regulation at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, they have been able to continue on with a normal school year with academics and sports.
When COVID became a threat to South Dakota, Vermillion High School sports administrator John Huska set many measurements to not only prevent the spread of COVID in athletic teams but to also track if someone got it.
Huska said he communicated with the health department and the state athletics association, all to help come up with a safe plan for all the sports teams to follow.
“We were fortunate enough that we started in the summer with some of our workouts, individual workouts and things like that,” Huska said. “We implemented some safety measures there, with the temperature check, the questions on how they were feeling, things like the use of hand sanitizer, limited contact with kids and limiting the numbers in the gym.”
They treated the summer practices before the 2020 school year like a test run for their COVID safety measures, Huska siad.
The safety regulations proved effective over the summer, Huska said as no one got COVID during the summer. Coaches and students, he said did their part in helping prevent the spread of COVID.
“Coaches really deserve a lot of the credit in this because with them implementing this and really being strict on it,” Huska said.
Huska said students and families of the community understood the rationale and importance of these new conditions. With missing out on a lot last year, Huska said, they were willing to do whatever it takes to have what they used to.
“Our students have definitely done a great job in school, following the expectations,” Huska said. “And I think they understand how valuable, after not having, face to face learning is after last year. And I know they wanted to get back, they were very excited to start activities this year.”
Activities and competitions have the same schedule as they did last year. Huska said only one match for volleyball was postponed, which has already been rescheduled.
“We are operating the same schedules, just with different precautions, everything is pretty much the same,” Huska said.
All precautions are still implemented today — masks for inside games are required for everyone, assigned seating on the buses and frequent temperature checks.
“I don’t think there have been huge things that have changed, just a lot of small things.” Cael Mockler, a Vermillion football player, said.
A player on the football team had to quarantine two weeks ago, and the team had to be more strict with masks since, Mockler said. The team now has to wear them in the locker room and weight room and the coaches are now required to wear them during practice.
It’s the little things that were implemented that helped Huska said.
“When it comes down to it when the volleyball is thrown out on the court, and the football is kicked off, the gun goes off for a cross country meet,” Huska said. “Once it starts it’s pretty much the same as it has been in years past. I think everyone has adjusted very well.”
There have only been eight cases at Vermillion High School, one to two of which were a part of sports programs. To keep the number of cases down, Huska said, the new safety measures are here to stay.
“I don’t see anything changing in the near future,” said Huska.