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Utah schools planning 'the new normal' of sports and activities

Posted at 11:57 PM, Jul 16, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — As school districts move forward with plans on how to run classes this fall, the question remains on how school sports and after-school activities will take place.

Will football games be held? Will people be able to attend? What about theater and plays? Band and orchestra? Speech and debate?

School districts told Fox 13 on Thursday that they are looking at the Utah High School Activities Association for guidance, as well as state leaders and local health departments.

They are still trying to come up with concrete plans.

On Thursday evening, a small group of teens on the East High baseball team practiced on the school's field.

They've been practicing there three times a week.

The team said they allow only 20 people or less at the practice, and they wear masks and sanitize equipment.

The players expressed wanting to stay in the swing of things, after having to miss most of their season.

"When it got shut down, there's nothing you can really do. You can just look to the future," said Daniel Banks, who recently graduated from East High but still practices with the team.

The future is still a toss up. And now, the fall sports season is drawing nearer.

There's a lot at stake, especially for seniors who only have one more season to play.

"For a lot of our athletes, especially the seniors-- they have a lot riding on this," said Salt Lake City School District spokesperson Yándary Chatwin. "For the ones who are looking for college scholarships and opportunities, that they won't have if they can't play this fall."

Right now, Salt Lake City is in the "orange" when it comes to COVID-19. According to guidelines released by the UHSAA, school districts in orange areas can't meet in groups of more than 20 people, they can't hold mass gatherings (no fans at games), and they can't hold activities where teammates or opponents come within ten feet of each other.

School districts in "yellow" areas can hold practices, as well as indoor/outdoor events. However, the events should be capped at a certain number of people, and there are rules on social distancing, sanitation and masks.

The UHSAA and Chatwin indicated the recommendations could change before the school year starts.

"There's no plan set in stone again because the guidelines just changed on us really quickly," Chatwin said. "But it's possible that we might have athletes on the field, but no spectators in the stands."

She said they are anticipating more guidance from Governor Gary Herbert's office on Friday, and there might be changes to how extra curriculars are run.

The East High baseball team is hoping for good news.

"Maybe we can get some scrimmages going between other schools, and try to play some type of games if we can," Daniel said.

But, just like everything recently-- it's all up in the air.