Testing, transportation highlight concerns for OACP sports
Basketball and wrestling have not been approved for the winter high school sports season, but that’s only one of several issues facing Oasis Academy as it enters its second eligible year in the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association.
With the season scheduled to start Jan. 2 with conditioning and tryouts followed by games two weeks later, OACP Athletics Director Dusty Casey is worried about making sure there’s adequate testing for the players and coaching staff, transportation and if the school can accommodate fans if allowed. The state still needs to approve basketball and wrestling since both sports are on the high-risk, “no-play” list.
Casey said the school understands that the state is trying to roll out the rapid testing program to all schools, which would be at no cost, but without the program, it leaves Oasis Academy and the rest of the region in a bind. The NIAA recommends that coaches and players are tested before the season and then weekly, if possible.
“This will be a challenge,” he said. “Without this program, meeting the NIAA testing policy requirements will be a logistical challenge, along with being very costly.”
Oasis Academy, which fields only basketball during the winter high school season, also has middle school basketball, volleyball and wrestling teams. Casey said that the Sagebrush League athletics directors are following the NIAA on whether there will be middle school sports this season.
In addition to testing, transportation will be an issue because Oasis Academy doesn’t have a bus system like ChurchillCSD and is contracted with various transportation providers. The school often relies on parents transporting the players. But Oasis Academy isn’t the only school facing issues because of the social distancing requirements, which could double the number of busses or vans needed.
“With the pandemic mitigation guidelines, carpooling and busing will become difficult,” he said. “Oasis is planning to rely on families to transport their own children to away contests.”
If parents are needed to transport, they may not be allowed to enter the gyms this winter. The NIAA said that it’s up to the school districts or leagues to decide whether to allow fans. Under the state’s current emergency directive, only 50 would be allowed. Along with the crowd size limitation, the NIAA said that there must be 25 feet separation from spectators and the court.
“Given the current basketball-specific COVID-19 mitigation protocols outlined by the NIAA, it will be difficult, if not impossible, given the general facility sizes of most 1A schools,” Casey said.
The bright side, though, is Oasis Academy secured a video camera from the NIAA and National Federation of State High Schools and will be able to live-stream games from the city-county gym this season.
“This will be extremely valuable if we have limited, or no, fans for obvious reasons,” Casey said. “ I also think the benefits will be far reaching, allowing the family and friends of players who reside elsewhere to tune in and support the kids.”