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Utah high school winter sports to resume, new study suggests it is safe to do so

Ken Clark of Springville High School, left, and Jonathan Kane of Logan High School compete in the mens 500-yard freestyle race during the 4A State Swimming Championship at BYU Saturday, January 26, 2002. Clark took first with a time of 4:47.60 and Kane took second with a time of 4:43.73. Photo by Jason Olson

SALT LAKE CITY– High school winter sports now have the go-ahead to resume practices and tryouts in Utah, but they have to follow new COVID-19 guidelines and testing requirements.

All participants in Utah high school sports, including coaches, trainers and staff will be required to get tested for the virus every other week. Club sports and rec leagues must check for symptoms and ask about any exposure to the virus in the last two weeks.

Winter sports include boys and girls basketball, drill, swimming, and wrestling.

Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) assistant director Jon Oglesby says parents must be checking for symptoms in their teens.

COVID-19 infection and school sports 

A new study may help relieve some concerns. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin did not find an increased risk of getting COVID-19 from participating in school sports.

The study followed 30,000 student-athletes at 207 schools through September and October. Researchers found most cases resulted from the community or home contact.

Oglesby spoke to KSL as Utah fall sports were winding down.

“We believe overall that it has been successful, but that doesn’t mean that our diligence in making sure the guidelines are being followed can fall. If anything, it has to rise as the situation changes on a day to day basis,” he said.

Governor Herbert put a two-week moratorium on extracurriculars from Nov. 9 to Nov. 23. But the new health order was issued Monday, Nov. 23.

“In light of today’s Public Health Order announcement from Governor Herbert, the UHSAA will resume winter sports practices and tryouts on Tuesday, November 24,” read a UHSAA statement.

“Additionally, the Association will work with member schools, the Governor’s Office and the State Department of Health to ensure the necessary testing resources are available to member schools to begin competition on Thursday, Dec. 3 for all sports with the exception of wrestling, which will begin on Dec. 11 to accommodate for the delayed start to mandated hydration testing.”

Oglesby said coaches are always thinking of the health and well-being of their athletes. 

“I think our coaches are extremely well-suited in times like these because of their organization to be able to handle situations that arise and create the best possible outcome,” said Oglesby.