Admin approves fall sports with COVID-19 safety restrictions

Girls water polo team practicing on the tennis courts for their last practice of the season.

Georgia Schroeder

Girls water polo team practicing on the tennis courts for their last practice of the season.

This fall, High School 1327 (HS 1327) decided to allow fall sports such as, waterpolo, baseball, football, and more, to begin practicing in cohorts, kicking off the season in an unprecedented way. COVID-19 has caused the HS 1327 administration to create a secure plan to ensure participants’ safety by using cohorts. Cohorts will split up the teams into smaller groups, if necessary, and minimize the number of interactions between players.

Students taking part in a sports cohort must fill out a daily check-in sheet about their current state of health, as well as get a temperature check every day upon arrival. Students must be wearing face coverings at arrival and departure times. 

Lauren Matthys getting her temperature checked by girls water polo coach Gina Castagnola upon arrival. (Georgia Schroeder)

According to the Girls’ Water Polo coach Gina Castagnola, non-Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD) staff must stay away from the practicing facilities at all times, and adults must remain in their vehicles during pick-up.

Before our practices, parents fill out a symptoms form, we take each athlete’s temperature before every practice, and ensure that we enter and exit facilities wearing masks and maintain at least 6 feet distance during practice. We are using water polo balls for our dryland workouts and each athlete brings their own from home,” Castagnola said.

These simple rules created will help maintain the safety of the coaches and players in each cohort. As well as arriving and departing with face coverings, all students are expected to remain six feet from other participants at all times.

The HS 1327 sports coaching staff will also look different this year, according to Athletic Director Alex Chapman.

“[There’s] a maximum of 14 students to one coach, that’s the magic number… bigger teams like football and track… have to have multiple coaches because each coach can only work with 14 people,” Chapman said.

There are also modified guidelines based on the sport and the equipment used by the players. Sports that are using equipment must have players bring their own supplies to the practices every day. Equipment also must be sanitized after each use and at the end of each day. 

COVID-19 has caused many coaches to focus on keeping the team emotionally close while still being physically distanced. This ensures that players are able to build a connection with their teammates without jeopardizing their safety.

I know that when we are able to hop in the pool as a High School 1327 team on [December 7] we won’t take any moments for granted. We have had more time outside of our traditional season to get to know each other, build culture, and even watch a little game film. I am actually really grateful for all of the extra interactions that I have been able to have over Zoom with the team,” Castagnola said.

The ability to proceed with fall and winter sports would not have been possible without the HS 1327 faculty and staff. Given the conditions of COVID-19, staff members like Taber Watson, the HS 1327 baseball coach, have worked to create an environment for players to continue growing as a team and as individual players.

“[COVID-19 restrictons have] kind of become sort of second nature now…It might even be a little weird to transition back to acting normally,” Watson said.

As COVID-19 safety measures become the new normal, players and coaches alike are forced to adapt to sports with restrictions. Our community will soon see how teams have adapted to the circumstances in upcoming sports events.