Central League allows for interleague play

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By Alexis Costas, Sports Editor In light of COVID-19 social distancing recommendations, the question of whether or not to have a 2020 fall sports season has been a heavily debated topic amongst the Central League, Chester County Health Department (CCHD), Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletics Association (PIAA) and individual school districts. Following CCHD guideline adjustments, the Central...

By Alexis Costas, Sports Editor

In light of COVID-19 social distancing recommendations, the question of whether or not to have a 2020 fall sports season has been a heavily debated topic amongst the Central League, Chester County Health Department (CCHD), Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletics Association (PIAA) and individual school districts. Following CCHD guideline adjustments, the Central League has collaborated with schools to allow an optional staggered return to competitive sports.

Under this policy, schools that choose to rejoin the competitive fall season may reschedule practices and games, with low-contact sports like tennis beginning earliest and high-contact sports such as football and cheerleading beginning last. The ’Stoga season officially resumed its complete schedule the week of Sept. 28 with practices starting for football, soccer, field hockey, cross country and volleyball teams. Games for those sports began the week of Oct. 5 in addition to tennis and golf. 

According to Athletics Director Kevin Pechin, keeping students safe is the district’s top priority. In the event that an athlete or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, the district’s pandemic team will immediately contact the player’s family as well as the CCHD, who will at that point begin the contact tracing process. Hand sanitizer is available at all athletics facilities, and bathrooms are cleaned routinely before and after every practice and game. Spectators at all events will be strictly limited in accordance with the Pennsylvania government’s regulations regarding gatherings and athletics.

“Everything is unlike any other season we’ve ever had. It’s all very different,” Pechin said.

This decision has been met with support from many student athletes eager to return to their sports. Junior and varsity football player Hayden Karbiner is glad to have the opportunity to get back on the field.

“I’m very excited for the season resuming, especially for the seniors considering a month ago nobody knew if they would ever have a chance to play for (Conestoga) one final time. I have no hesitation to go back and play because the school and the Central League have plans in place to protect the players and coaches,” Karbiner said.

As a high-contact sport, a variety of football-specific safety measures have been put in place, with the most notable being the addition of face shields into every player’s helmet. While every sport has its own individualized safety plan, all athletes are required to maintain social distancing whenever possible and complete a daily health screening before attending practices and games. Over 10,000 of these health screenings have been completed since athletics resumed to ensure that all players are healthy.

That being said, some athletes, including sophomore and varsity girls tennis player Isabella Chen, have concerns about the season’s rescheduling. 

“We don’t have any practices because we have a lot less time than usual, which also means all of our games are condensed into the shorter season. We also can’t really have spectators, and it’s hard to do fun team bonding stuff. Tennis season was my favorite part of school last year and by having a (shortened) fall season, they’ve made it really rushed and stressful,” Chen said.

The Central League is continuing to monitor recommendations from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and PIAA, and are prepared to adjust the fall sports regulations if necessary to keep student athletes healthy and safe.

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