COVID-19 tiers signal when sports resume 

Sports will begin to re-emerge when stay-at-home order ends

The California Interscholastic Federation shows the different COVID-19 tiers certain sports will need to reach in order to compete again.

Photo Courtesy of The California Interscholastic Federation

The California Interscholastic Federation shows the different COVID-19 tiers certain sports will need to reach in order to compete again.

If Oak Park High School athletes hope to return to safe in-person practicing, they’re going to have to jump through COVID-19 tier hurdles. Since Ventura County’s ICU bed availability is under 15%, the county is currently under a stay-at-home order from the state of California. As a result, sports that meet in person are severely restricted.  

“We are in the midst of an unprecedented surge in cases and hospitalizations in California and across the country,” California’s COVID-19 response site stated. “The Regional Stay Home Order will help stop the surge and prevent overwhelming regional ICU capacity.”

If Ventura County’s ICUs become less crowded, the stay-at-home order will be lifted. The county would then enter the four-tiered, color-coded monitor system. Sports are assigned to one of the four tiers based on level of contact and transmission risk. Ventura County will return to the most severe one, the purple tier, if the stay-at-home order ends.

“If the stay at home order is lifted at some point and we are in the purple tier, Cross Country, Tennis, Golf, and Track & Field would be permitted to compete, pending county and district approval,” Athletics Director Tim Chevalier wrote to the Talon. “Competitions for cross country would start right away if we are still in the Fall season and if that happens in the Spring season, then Tennis, Golf, and Track & Field would start competing, pending county and district approval.” 

If Ventura County moves out of the purple tier and into the red, baseball, softball, girls’ lacrosse and outdoors cheerleading will be allowed. Chevalier believes that Ventura County may enter the red tier by April.

“My hope is that our seniors have an opportunity to play a sport in their final high school year,” Chevalier wrote. “I know that athletes are discouraged and disheartened about the possibility of not having a season. My heart goes out to them.”

Varsity cheerleader and senior Maya Baumann hopes to be back on the field as soon as possible, but is nonetheless thankful she can meet in person at all. 

“We are practicing a few times a week for roughly an hour at a time; we’re outside on the track,” Baumann said. “This is a step up from previously, when we could only practice online via Zoom call.”

The orange tier sees the return of football, boys’ lacrosse, soccer, volleyball, indoor dance and outdoor basketball. Finally, in the yellow tier, basketball, cheer and stunt can compete inside. 

“At this point, I feel like it is what it is and we have to make the most of what’s available right now,” Baumann said. 

For all sports currently practicing and conditioning, social distancing and mask-wearing policies are strictly enforced. 

“Everything right now is outdoors only; no use of the gym or weight rooms,” Chevalier wrote. “All athletes must electronically sign in after answering screening questions. Temperatures are taken and recorded. Attendance logs are kept for tracing purposes. Athletes condition in small 14 member pods … although none of this is optimal, we are doing a great job at what we can control.”

Chevalier feels hopeful for the future and is excited to see OPHS athletes compete once more.

“Our athletes and coaches have done a tremendous job of conducting athletic conditioning safely and under the protocols and procedures required by the county and state,” Chevalier wrote. “My message to the athletes I have spoken with is to stay positive, stay active, and keep the negativity out of the conversation. There’s enough of that out there that doesn’t need to be added to.”