School football and other contact sports can resume in Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown said Wednesday. But areas with higher Covid spread, including Salem, will need to take additional steps before holding practice and games.
Brown said in a statement the decision was in response to declining rates of Covid in Oregon.
“School sports play an important role in fostering students’ mental, emotional, and physical health. We will proceed with caution, to ensure that teams are following health and safety precautions to protect our athletes, their families, and their communities," Brown said in a statement.
School districts in counties currently at "high" or "extreme" risk of Covid spread would have to offer Covid tests for symptomatic people onsite and record contact information to trace any spread of Covid. Players would also have to sign a waiver and commit to isolating themselves if they test positive for the virus.
Both Marion and Polk counties remain in the extreme risk category, though new Covid cases have declined in recent weeks.
Schools that choose to resume football and other contact sports must also offer at least some in-person classes, Brown said.
“It is not lost on me that this decision today will allow high school football to resume, when too many high school classrooms across Oregon remain empty. To all the parents of student athletes and coaches who have called and emailed me in the last year asking for school sports to resume, I am challenging you now to devote your energy to making sure in-person academics can resume for your kids, too. If our school gyms, fields, and weight rooms are to reopen, we owe it to Oregon’s children to make sure our classrooms, libraries, and science labs fully reopen as well," Brown said in a statement.
Salem-Keizer School District spokeswoman Sylvia McDaniel said Wednesday district leaders are still discussing if and when they will seek to resume football practices and games for school teams.