Jan. 20, 2022 — Some youth sports around the Siuslaw Valley have been put on hold thanks to the rampant spread of COVID-19. The Siuslaw and Mapleton high school basketball teams, Siuslaw Middle School boys basketball team and the K-6 youth basketball program at the Boys and Girls Club of Western Lane County (BGCWLC) have all been put on hold as they work through COVID-19 exposure situations.
On Monday, Jan. 17, Siuslaw High School Athletic Director Chris Johnson announced that as the result of “an exposure to COVID,” both of the SHS girls basketball team games this week, at Marshfield on Jan. 18 and a home game against Elmira on Jan. 21, would be postponed and rescheduled for a later date.
Johnson also announced on the morning of Jan. 20 that the boys game versus Elmira the following night would be postponed for unspecified COVID concerns.
On Tuesday, Jan. 18, a member of the Siuslaw Middle School boys basketball team tested positive. After some initial confusion about how to proceed, all middle school basketball activities were shut down until Tuesday, Jan. 25.
In both situations, student athletes who were up to date on vaccinations were asked to monitor symptoms and proceed as normal. If they showed, symptoms they were asked to isolate immediately.
People that are not up to date with vaccination who were exposed to the players who tested positive were told to quarantine for a minimum of 5 days and can return with a negative a test to return and no symptoms.
Siuslaw School District Superintendent Andy Grzeskowiak provided a two-step sequential process that is used to determine quarantine protocol:
Step 1. Those persons that are not up to date with vaccination are subject to an initial five-day quarantine.
Step 2a. Those persons who are not up to date with vaccination and are asymptomatic with a negative test on day 5 post-exposure may return on days 6-10 as they are fully masked and monitoring for symptoms.
Step 2b. Those persons who are not up to date with vaccination and show symptoms during the initial quarantine or test positive then continue with a period of isolation.
People can see the attached chart for what is considered “up to date” by the Oregon Department of Education.
On Thursday morning, Grzeskowiak sent out a “COVID Contact” email to staff and families of the district to announce positive COVID-19 results “for persons at all three school sites.”
“As members of the school community, we understand that this might raise concerns, alongside a caring response. We are working closely with Lane County Public Health to respond to this news and protect the health of our community,” he said.
He outlined cleaning procedures and protocols for absences.
“The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is through wearing face coverings, physical distancing and to practice good health hygiene habits. It is due to the use of face coverings, physical distancing and other regular mitigation practices within the school that exposures leading to isolation are limited. No one should be coming to school when actively ill and only returning after being symptom-free for 24 hours,” Grzeskowiak stated.
In addition, Mapleton also canceled all basketball activities on Thursday morning for the rest of the week for “COVID precautions,” per Athletic Director Carrie Dean.
Mapleton Superintendent Jodi O’Mara gave the following statement when asked how her district was proceeding regarding potential exposure within the district: “If a student athlete tests positive for COVID, they are on a 10 day quarantine and can return after 10 days if symptoms have improved and they are fever free for 24 hours,” she said. “If a student athlete is a close contact with a person who tests positive for COVID, several factors determine their quarantine timeline.”
“If at any time, close contacts become symptomatic, their quarantine timeline starts over and they now follow the symptomatic timeline/expectations,” O’Mara said. “We also encourage them to get tested as a close contact.”
The youngest athletes in our area are also not immune from the problems their older classmates are facing. The Boys and Girls Club of Western Lane County delayed the start of its K-6 youth basketball program.
BGCWLC Elementary Site Director Sam Gauderman, head of the club’s youth basketball program, emailed a statement to parents of participants delaying the start of basketball season until Monday, Jan. 31.
“Today it was identified that a staff member has had direct exposure to a COVID positive family member,” said Gauderman. “We have also been notified that many kids, parents and volunteers have tested positive as well. We are working with the Oregon Health Authority and PeaceHealth to determine the best steps to ensure the safety of our staff, members and volunteers. With the Omicron outbreak and its contagious nature, we will be delaying the start of basketball until Monday, Jan. 31. We still plan to have an 8-week season starting Monday, Jan. 31, thru Friday, March 18. We will break for the week of spring break, March 21 to 25, and resume with our last week, March 28 to April 1.”
This is the second time in the last month Boys and Girls Club has been forced to delay the start of the basketball season.
“Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding during these challenging times,” said Gauderman.
For more information on Siuslaw sports, go to www.siuslaw.k12.or.us. Up to date information on the Boys and Girls Club can be found at www.bgcwlc.org. Information on Mapleton is available at mapleton.k12.or.us.
More information about COVID-19 can be found through healthoregon.org/coronavirus, through the Oregon Department of Education’s “Ready Schools, Safe Learners” page, lanecounty.org/coronavirus and lanecounty.org/vaxclinics.