‘Kids are dying for extracurricular activities’ as high school sport returns to the playground

The sound of cheering may soon echo through the halls of York Region high schools.

Barring unforeseen developments in public health restrictions, several top sports are expected to start operating for the fall season from September 27.

After being sidelined since mid-March 2020 due to COVID-19, this is good news in the high school community.

“Kids are dying to do extracurricular activities,” said York Region Athletic Association athletic coordinator Mark Arsenault. “It is important to get the children to play. We try to protect everyone while providing opportunities. “

Despite clearance to play, there remains uncertainty for some sports in the YRAA’s programming, particularly if they require municipal facilities to function.

YRAA follows local guidelines from public health and the Department of Education for its return to the sport.

Activities such as basketball and volleyball are suspended because interaction between schools has not yet been approved inside gymnasiums.

The YRAA, which oversees the sports of 52 state and Catholic schools, reports a slight overall drop in team statements for the fall 2021 season. However, Arsenault had initially feared a 30 to 40 percent drop in the number of teams in the run-up to declarations day on September 17.

“The numbers for outdoor sports are close to what they normally would be with small declines,” Arsenault said. “It’s encouraging that we have these coaches to lead these sports and that the kids are playing. “

However, not all of this is positive news.

The inability to obtain use permits for municipal sites is a stumbling block for some outdoor sports.

For example, facilities run by municipalities are typically rented out for cross country running, which is one of the most popular sports on the fall calendar with over 40 schools usually participating.

Although football is allowed – only Huron Heights High School offers a program among YRAA schools – rugby is being sidelined.

The Huron Heights program is competitive in the Independent Schools Football League, which includes St. Andrew’s College in Aurora.

Football players, such as field hockey players and soccer players, are required to wear protective masks.

Other sports on the fall calendar include tennis, golf and cricket.

Tennis and golf events are considered at private venues, but with restrictions for athletes, including proof of vaccination.

Coaches and players are not required to be fully immunized for other sports.

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