On Tuesday, February 22nd, there will be a COVID-19 version of the scoreboard used by many high school soccer teams in Orange County.
What is at stake? The green light that says they can finally start their season.
The scoreboard they will see is actually the state website where updated COVID-19 statistics will be posted on Tuesday. If the numbers for OC are as good as expected, soccer teams can start conditioning right away and could play their first game as early as March 11-13.
After months of doubt that there would be a season this year, the sudden change in scenarios was made possible on Friday, February 19, when the California Department of Health revised its guidelines for college sports. The CDPH decided that high contact outdoor sports like soccer could be played in counties with purple and red plains when the county’s fall rate is at or below 14 per 100,000 people and when schools run weekly COVID tests. 19th
Under the previous guidelines, soccer could only be played in a county that reached the orange level, which is based on a positivity rate of 2 to 4.9 percent.
As of Friday, the state said the case rate in Orange County was 16. The past few days of data suggest the county has a good chance of being at 14 or less when the state’s dashboard is updated on Tuesday.
In that case, teams could hold a conditioning session on Tuesday afternoon and begin full training on Friday, February 26, the day the new guidelines officially go into effect. The teams must complete 14 training units before playing, including three fitness days of their first game.
If a team starts its season in the week of March 11-13, it can play six games before the season ends on April 17th, or five games if it kicks off in the week of March 18-20 plays.
There are some potential roadblocks that teams could delay or potentially end their season despite the new CDPH guidelines. The state’s revised plan must be approved at the county level, as well as by school districts and private schools, before teams can begin practicing in pads and games.
There are several reasons schools might skip this season, including concerns that the long break from team training increases the risk of injury for the players.
The new testing requirement for teams falling into the 14 per 100,000 case rate category is also a potential problem area. The state pays for the tests – antigen or PCR – for every player and coach on a team, but it’s up to each school to run the tests until a county falls below a case rate of 7 per 100,000.
The test requirement affects many coaches and sports directors. The organization and extra responsibility might be too much for some schools to take on, especially on the short term.
Schools and league officials are expected to hold meetings this week to discuss testing requirements.
Orange County may be the only local county to hit the new benchmark on Tuesday. Los Angeles County had a rate of 17.6 on Friday and San Bernardino County was 19. Ventura and Riverside counties had no updated case rates as of Friday, but both were a significant distance of 26.2 and 28.8, respectively, as of February . 16.
Teams in the counties that don’t meet the new benchmarks on Tuesday will have to wait until next week to see if they make it. The state updates the online statistics every Tuesday.
The CIF-SS said Friday that it is up to each school to decide how many games it will play this season, but the season ends on April 17th. The CIF-SS decided not to extend their football season to May 1, although the CIF State made this an option for each section.
The CIF-SS has compiled breakdowns of possible schedules for teams based on when they are cleared for the start of their season. Here’s a look at these breakdowns: