Anchorage high school sports OK’d to tackle games next week

The Bartlett High School Golden Bears face off against the Chugiak Mustangs at Mulcahey Field in Anchorage for the 2017 state football semi-final. Casey Grove/Alaska Public Media)

The Anchorage School District says its high school sports teams can move from conditioning-only workouts to full practices starting Friday with games beginning as early as next week.

That applies to cross country, swimming, diving, tennis, volleyball, gymnastics, football, flag football and cheerleading. The rifle team will begin its season a few days later, on Wednesday, according to a statement Thursday from the district.

While Anchorage schools continue to operate at a high-risk level, with all classes online, the district says it’s confident it can run its fall sports safely with minimal risk to those involved. It says it consulted with state health officials and the Alaska State Activities Association.

“Sports and activities have a smaller, more controlled group setting than a large secondary-school academic setting, allowing for additional safety precautions and less co-mingling of students,” the district said in a statement. “Additionally, sports and activities are optional.”

Each sport has a safety mitigation plan that addresses health screenings, equipment handling, sanitation protocols and when face masks must be used.

The district said it will also limit the number of spectators at games and require them to wear face coverings. And, it plans to stream more competitions online. 

Also, Anchorage School District teams will only be allowed to compete against one another during their regular season, and will not travel outside of the city unless they qualify for their state tournament, the district said.

The district will address any COVID-19 outbreaks on a case-by-case basis, it said. 

Sports are underway at other schools in Alaska. Last week, a Fairbanks high school football player tested positive for COVID-19 after a game, prompting all players and coaches involved in the competition to quarantine for 14 days. A student athlete in Nome also tested positive last month, leading to the suspension of practices.