As if middle school sports in our area were not hurt enough already by COVID mandates,  and now COVID-related transportation issues, here comes another one.

It appears the WIAA (Washington Interscholastic Activities Association) has passed a 'mandate' that at least for boys basketball in middle schools beginning in the next week or so, twice-weekly COVID testing is required if the player is not vaccinated.

The WIAA classifies basketball as a "high-risk" sport for COVID exposure.

According to USAFacts.org, as of late June, 24 percent of persons in our state ages 12-17 had STARTED their vaccinations, but no data on how many were vaccinated.

Although the data is several months old, the WSDOH says as of late May 2021, 3.6 percent of those ages 12-15 (middle school age) had begun or received at least one vaccine.  The Seattle Times claims that number rose to 41 percent by July.

These stats are being offered, because they will impact boys basketball and other related winter sports covered under this mandate from the WIAA.

Libby Middle School, and Highlands Middle School each either posted information on their websites, or sent it out via email.  In each case, students who wish to play basketball (boys) will have to agree to twice-weekly COVID testing unless they are fully vaccinated. This will no doubt scare off a lot of potential players.

It is not yet known if this will affect girls basketball, which is slated to happen later this winter.

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However, this mandatory testing greatly increases the possibility for false positives, knocking students out of school for as long as ten days to 2 weeks, unless they can obtain another negative test.  This will also, say some Richland parents who have reached out to us about this from Libby, cause significant disruptions with the athletic programs.

Part of the actual Highlands MS email read as follows:

"Boys Basketball: if you are playing boys basketball you will need to fill out and return the attached COVID Testing Consent form before you are allowed to practice.  If you do not turn in the form, you will be sent home.  The form is consent to be COVID tested 2 or more times a week in order to participate in Boys Basketball.  This is a requirement from WIAA, not our district or our school.  We will have a teacher or coach that will be responsible for the testing. "

So, it appears if your child is one of the 49 percent whom state stats say is not yet vaccinated, they will have to submit to twice-weekly COVID testing if they wish to play boys basketball.  This could also affect girls, and wrestling, and other indoor sports.

Athletes who are more experienced and have certain skill levels will possibly say it's not worth it and instead opt to only play AAU.  Every high school has AAU affiliation, and there are boys and girls teams ages grade school through high school.

We will see what happens with turnouts soon.

 

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