With COVID cases surging across the state, both the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Health Authority suggested schools suspend extracurricular activities or ensure they follow safety protocols.
But officials with Bend-La Pine Schools, Culver Schools and the Redmond School District say, at this time they have no plans to suspend any athletics or make any current COVID protocol changes in response to the suggestion.
COVID cases in Deschutes County have more than doubled in the last week, jumping from 560 two weeks ago to more than 1,400 last week.
The Jefferson County 509J school district says they are in talks with surrounding schools, local health officials, and schools in their athletic league, but are waiting to decide what the next steps are in regard to the Omicron variant.
At Crook County, they have no plans to suspend activities saying quote “this is not a road the district will go through,” and “It’s not even a discussion point.”
Suspending extracurricular activities is a local decision.
“To maintain in-person instruction we need to take every possible step to reduce spread so that our students and staff remain healthy and at school,” said the ODE Communications Director Marc Siegal about the reasoning behind the suggestion. “Our North Star remains holding school in-person, for all students, every school day, all year long. Keeping students in school is critical for their educational and social emotional health.”
“If schools and other organizations proceed with extracurricular activities, especially as these activities move indoors and individuals are unmasked, they should expect rapid transmission of COVID-19 that will prevent students from participating in in-person learning due to isolation for those that contract COVID-19 and lengthy quarantines for those that come into close contact with infected individuals,” said Siegal.
A big concern for wrestling fans is how the OHA and ODE suggestion affects one of the largest wrestling tournaments in the state, the Oregon Classic in Redmond.
In a few weeks, the Classic at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo is expected to have around 300 wrestling teams and more than 1,000 wrestlers from all ages attend.
Board Chair for the tournament Cleave Thompson says everything is still a go and all COVID protocols are set in place.