High school sports in Kent, Federal Way, Auburn and Maple Valley might return in early March under a plan approved by the North Puget Sound League (NPSL) athletic directors.
Football practice could start March 1 while practice for other fall sports in the so-called Season 1 would start March 8, according to the plan. The other Season 1 sports include cross county, girls soccer, volleyball, girls swimming and boys and girls golf.
The plan also was supported by a majority of the school districts within in the league and approved by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), according to a Jan. 25 email from Rob Swaim, director of athletics and activities for the Auburn School District.
The return to play is subject to the number of COVID-19 cases not being too high so that King County is in Phase 2. The plan follows the “Road Map to Recovery” guidelines from the state.
The schools in the NPSL include Kentwood, Kentridge, Kentlake, Kent-Meridian, Auburn, Auburn Riverside, Auburn Mountainview, Decatur, Thomas Jefferson, Todd Beamer, Federal Way, Kennedy Catholic, Mount Rainier and Tahoma.
• Season 1 would run March 8 through April 17 under the shorter-season plan.
• Season 2 would run April 12 through May 22. That includes the spring sports of baseball, fastpitch softball, boys soccer, girls tennis, track and field and boys swimming.
• Season 3 would run May 17 through June 26 and include boys basketball, girls basketball, wrestling, gymnastics (May 10 start), dance, cheerleading, bowling, boys tennis and boys and girls water polo.
The WIAA released guidelines in early January, but ultimately left it up to each league to set schedules and seasons that work best for the school districts in the league.
Kent School District leaders posted the following statement Jan. 21 to the district website:
“The Kent School District has postponed the start of all high school and middle school athletics, according to the statement. “The exact date for Season One has yet to be determined but will be no sooner than Feb. 22. However, this date is not confirmed and is for planning purposes only. A final decision on a return date will be based on public health guidance, the spread of the virus in our community, and bargaining with our labor partners.”
District leaders said they hope to return to play.
“KSD recognizes the important role extra-curricular activities like athletics have in students’ growth and development and is continuing to prepare for the safe and healthy implementation of activities in alignment with public health guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” according to the statement. “The consideration for a return to limited in-person extra-curricular activities has been and continues to be part of our reopening plans.”
Students and families who are registered and cleared for athletics through the district’s FamilyID will receive communication from their building athletic director related to procedures and protocols when athletics and activities do resume in person.
Kentlake coaches seek change
More than a dozen Kentlake coaches signed a letter to Superintendent Calvin Watts and the Kent School Board asking that athletes be allowed to train for the start of the season similar to neighboring districts.
They said the district should permit in-person training and conditioning – masked, socially distanced and contact-traced – during Phase 1 and plan for competitions to resume during Phase 2, which is on the horizon.
“Coaches and athletic directors in the Kent School District have worked tirelessly to formulate multiple plans allowing a safe return to training for our student-athletes,” according to the letter. “Unfortunately, leadership in the Kent School District punted on all of those, failed to identify new plans and now have decided that our student-athletes will not be allowed to return to play while students in every surrounding district do.”
The coaches want the district leaders to review their policy.
“We aren’t asking the Kent School District to take drastic action or take the lead on a complex issue; we are simply asking you to adhere to the guidelines laid out by the state,” according to the letter. “Doing so will not only benefit our students, but will also help the district pilot strategies for safe returns to in-person instruction.”
Kentlake High junior quarterback Nate Beck started a petition drive at change.org to ask the district to bring back sports sooner. His goal was 1,000 signatures and as of Tuesday afternoon it had nearly reached the goal. The link can be found at:
The Tahoma School District posted the following information on its website about its sports plan at Tahoma High School in Maple Valley:
• A conditioning/season preparation window began on Jan. 14 and will continue through Feb. 26, to allow our athletes time to participate in sport-specific workouts before the seasons begin. More than 400 Tahoma athletes have registered for the conditioning season so far.
• This plan will allow time to ensure that officials are available and for league commissioners to develop specific schedules.
• Surrounding leagues have developed their own season schedules based on what is best for and deemed safe by their own communities.
• Districts in the NPSL will not participate in WIAA postseason competition. If possible, the league will host its own postseason competitions.
• A plan will be determined by the league and districts regarding fan attendance, in order to comply with guidelines from health officials. Crowd sizes will be limited, and we are investigating potential livestream options.
• ASB and participation fees are not being charged, in order to support families.