February 6th, 2023

South Dakota high school sports to start in August

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — High school sports in South Dakota will proceed on schedule but with precautions because of the coronavirus pandemic, the state’s governing body decided Wednesday.

The South Dakota High School Activities Association’s board of directors unanimously approved a plan for competitions and practices to proceed.

Along with recommending that schools allow athletics to proceed on schedule, the board suggested that they take some safety precautions, including screening athletes, coaches and support staff for COVID-19 and isolating those found to have the disease, the Argus Leader reported.

The plan also recommends a four-tiered system for allowing spectators into sporting events. The tiers would range from allowing anyone if infection trends are steady or decreasing to barring fans if there is a spike in cases in the region.

The plan will give school administrators some flexibility on how sports can proceed based on the severity of the pandemic in local areas. Sports practices will begin as early as Aug. 3, and the first competition — a tennis tournament — is scheduled for Aug. 11.

“It was detailed enough to provide structure for all the schools in the state, but broad enough to allow for local control,” said Harrisburg activities director Jim Altenburg.

The association created a task force to come up with recommendations on how schools can try to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections and a tiered system for allowing fans to attend events.

Masks won’t be required at competitions, but the task force recommends that schools encourage spectators to wear them. It also says schools should “strongly consider” requiring students to wear them during bus rides to games and practices and that teams should create bus seating charts to help with contact tracing, if it’s necessary.

The South Dakota State Medical Association, which is the largest association of doctors in the state, has urged schools to require masks be worn indoors.

“It is important for everyone who will be in school buildings to wear face coverings this fall,” said Dr. Benjamin Aaker, the association’s president.