Fall sports and activities return for the 2020-2021 school year

All+fall+sports+and+activities+are+on+for+the+upcoming+semester.+Each+sport+will+follow+new+guidelines+in+order+to+decrease+the+spread+of+COVID-19.

Rachel Brown

All fall sports and activities are on for the upcoming semester. Each sport will follow new guidelines in order to decrease the spread of COVID-19.

Morgan Vehige, Assistant Editor

Fall sports are back for the 2020-2021 season.

While the original announcement from the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) said schools returning to in-person learning could participate in sports and those who were all virtual could not, on Aug. 3 MSHSAA announced they were working with schools around the State to provide the safest possible outcome for fall sports.

Some ideas included postponing fall sports for a few weeks, pushing fall sports to take place in the spring and pushing spring sports into summer or letting all-virtual schools have the choice to send their students back to sports or not based on the local health guidelines. 

MSHSAA Executive Director Kerwin Urhahn said in an August press release that MSHSAA wants to have “possibilities that would allow as many students to participate as safely as possible.” He also hoped schools that are returning to in-person learning full-time that their seasons won’t experience much change at all.

In an email to Rockwood families on Aug. 17, the district announced fall sports and activities will continue. This plan was devised by Rockwood and surrounding districts, along with the St. Louis Suburban Public High School Athletic and Activities Association, MSHSAA and health professionals like SSM Health, BJC HealthCare and Mercy.

Activities Director Jonathan Sumner said, “The guidelines are being reviewed this week as far as restrictions are concerned. We will have to follow whatever guidelines are set by the St. Louis Task Force at all practices and events, but I am hopeful our kids will be able to participate in their chosen extracurricular activities this fall.”

Fall practices will begin on the first day of school, Aug. 24, but conditions for start dates and times will vary for each sport. Each student will be required to fill out the Rockwood COVID-19 Symptom Self-Report Form before each practice, and wear a mask until participating in physical exertion. 

“If they are being physically active, they would not have to wear a mask,” Sumner said, “When student-athletes are in-between drills, communicating with coaches and other athletes and other similar situations, they would be required to wear a mask.”

Junior Paige Halter is excited to return to her softball season, despite the new guidelines and rules that accompany practices and games.

“It means a lot [to return to softball] with everything going on and not going back to school and all. Softball has become a way for me to have contact with friends while doing something I love,” Halter said. 

Rockwood will continue to follow its safety protocols when fall sports begin practicing in the summer through camps and open fields. For example, students will be in smaller groups as they do more individual drills, be expected to social distance and follow all the new safety rules and guidelines as they appear.

Schedules and games are still subject to change as the situation evolves, but more information will come based on the specific sport in the next few weeks. As of the moment, there are no spectators allowed on a Rockwood campus, but guidelines may change and will be available once they are determined.

As for the athletic performances themselves, Halter isn’t too concerned about having missed out on a few weeks of practice.

“It’s going to be difficult,” Halter said, “I think in the end, everyone will be cautious, but I don’t see it having a dramatic effect on the athletes’ performances. I’m just excited to get back into the swing of things and I’m looking forward to creating more memories with the team during my junior year.”

Sumner understands that the athletes appreciate their opportunities to be a part of the activities they choose but stresses the importance of following all the set guidelines and respecting the process to keep them involved in their passions.

“I think people will struggle with things looking different,” Sumner said, “We will adapt and follow the guidelines that are set in order to give our students a chance to be connected and share their passion in our school in a safe setting. I am excited to see our kids back on campus and doing what they love, that is what makes my job fun.”

For more information, visit the Rockwood website.