State announces new COVID testing protocols for high school athletes

State Department of Health will require high school athletes to be tested three times a week, and Clark County Public Health has recommended that the sport of wrestling be put on pause from now until the end of winter break.

Clark County Public Health recommends that wrestling be put on hold for winter break

The Washington State Department of Health has announced new protocols for high school winter sports which will require testing of all athletes, regardless of vaccination status, and Clark County Public Health has recommended that all schools pause wrestling from now through the winter break.

“We did issue a recommendation to the school districts that they pause wrestling activities for two weeks,” said Marissa Armstrong, the CCPH’s public information officer, on Friday afternoon. “It wasn’t a mandate or requirement. That recommendation remains in place.”

Ridgefield High School announced on social media it did call off its Draper Invitational wrestling event that was supposed to start today and conclude Saturday.

Evergreen Public Schools, Vancouver Public Schools, and Battle Ground Public Schools have paused wrestling, as well. That will mean no Pacific Coast Wrestling Championships, an event that draws dozens of programs from throughout the Northwest.

The pause in wrestling is due to the “large number of COVID-19 cases, exposures, and outbreaks associated with local wrestling teams, and considering the many unknowns about the omicron variant,” according to a post on Clark County Public Health’s Facebook page.

Earlier in the week, the state DOH said 80 to 90 positive tests from wrestlers who competed in four events on Dec. 4. Reports say that number has risen to close to 200 now. Clark County did have wrestlers competing in those events, and at multiple schools reported athletes who have tested positive.

“By pausing wrestling activities for two weeks, we hope to interrupt virus transmission and slow the spread of COVID-19 within the wrestling teams and the community,” Clark County Public Health noted.

It is not just wrestling, though, that has seen pandemic-related issues. On Thursday, at least a half-dozen basketball games featuring Clark County teams were postponed.

The state has changed existing guidance effective immediately for indoor, high-contact sports and activities such as basketball, wrestling, and competitive cheer: 

  • The required testing of all athletes, coaches, trainers, and support personnel, regardless of vaccination status.
  •  Increased testing to three times a week, with one test occurring no sooner than the day before competition. When possible, test the day of the event, the DOH said.

In addition, the DOH issued a reminder:

  • All indoor event spectators must wear masks and should distance themselves from other families or households to the degree possible.
  • Mask wearing is required among all athletes, coaches, trainers, and support personnel in indoor public spaces except when actively competing.
  • Referees must wear masks except when actively officiated and running.
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