As winter sports like basketball, wrestling and gymnastics wrap up their seasons, Vermillion High School (VHS) is preparing for the spring season while still combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vermillion athletic director Jason Huska said Vermillion has implemented limited attendance and mandatory mask policies at indoor activities, but with outdoor sports like track and field coming up this spring, they are still contemplating their options.
“We have limited attendance and have a mandatory mask policy for all our indoor activities,” Huska said in an email interview with The Volante. “We can spread out during outdoor events but we may still require masks.”
Huska said one of the biggest challenges for VHS has been traveling to other schools that don’t have the same COVID-19 checks as they do. Vermillion completes temperature checks before practices, spreads athletes out and wears masks.
“When we travel on buses, we wear masks and spread out as much as possible,” Huska said. “Our coaches have done a great job of helping the students understand the importance of these procedures in order to finish each season successfully. We have been frustrated at times when we have gone to other schools and they do not have similar mitigations.”
The South Dakota High School Activities Association (SDHSAA) has added recommendations for schools before each sports season. Huska said he believes the SDHSAA has done a good job handling the pandemic.
“It was all so new to everyone and not something anyone had been through,” Huska said. “I think the right recommendations were given and then the schools spent a lot of time preparing for the safety of each athlete and coaches. We appreciate the willingness of the SDHSAA to push forward and help us get the seasons in for the student athletes.”
This spring, VHS will have track and field, boys tennis and girls golf in competition. Basketball and wrestling are heading into the postseason and state tournaments are starting this week. Huska said there have been great efforts to keep all student athletes safe.
“It took a great number of people to get to where we are today,” Huska said. “School Board, Superintendent, school nurse, teachers, coaches, custodians, etc. all have played and continue to play a key role in keeping our athletes safe. Many hours and dollars have been spent keeping our kids competing. We need to keep our procedures and protocols going and know it is the best for our student athletes to keep participating.”