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A glimmer of hope? Department of Health loosens guidelines to allow certain sports

Bill Choy Ethan Hanson
Mount Shasta Herald
Mount Shasta Bears Marcus Delgado, left, and Gaspar Rodriguez are expected to form a formidable running back tandem for the Bears this season.

Youth and adult recreational athletes have reason to smile after the California Department of Health loosened guidelines to allow certain outdoor contact sports to be played during the coronavirus pandemic on Friday.  

The state allows counties in the purple or red tier to play sports like football if the case rate is at 14 per 100,000 or below, state health officials said on Friday. 

According to the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy as of Tuesday, Siskiyou County was experiencing 15.6 cases per 100,000 residents.

The decision is a landmark win for high school programs across the North State who've been starved to have football return since the coronavirus pandemic. California has been without high school football since November 2019 .

"This is wonderful, fabulous news," CIF Northern Section commissioner Liz Kyle said. "We're excited." 

Jerry Oldham, Mount Shasta High School Athletic Director, said he heard the news early Friday afternoon. He expects there will be discussions soon on what this means for MSHS sports and those in the Shasta Cascade League, as well as other schools in Siskiyou County. 

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"I guess it's up to the county health department and our district on whether we can start those sports," Oldham said. He added that there is a meeting he will attend with the CIF on Wednesday. 

Jacob Mekeel, assistant athletic director at Dunsmuir High School said that the school is figuring out what this means for the 8-man football league Dunsmuir High plays in. Other Siskiyou County schools that are part of this league include Happy Camp, McCloud, Butte Valley and Tulelake.  

"I am in contact with our league to see what the next step is," he said. Mekeel added that DHS is in the midst of putting together cross country and tennis schedules that will begin in March. 

"I would guess as a league we will come up with a basketball schedule because that is the sport that will involve most of our student-athletes," Mekeel said. 

Both ADs said they should have a better idea of what the news means in the coming days.

Yreka High athletic director Ken Dysert said he was looking into the matter on Friday afternoon and would get back to the Daily News when he had an answer. 

The state is requiring players and coaches to have test results available 24 hours before kickoff if a county has a case rate between 7 and 14 per 100,000.   

Parents and guardians would also need to sign release forms acknowledging the nature and risk the exposure to illnesses present when playing sports.  

The state announced that red-tier moderate contact sports like baseball, softball, and cheerleading can be competed without testing.  

All the high schools in Siskiyou County announced in early February there would not be a football season. But the schools also made clear while they were canceling, if things changed before the cutoff deadline issued by the state of April 1 to start football, there was a chance, although remote, they could play football.