Other summer programs open with precautions in place
Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School welcomed back about 40 student-athletes for summer conditioning June 10, 2020, while following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Guidelines and procedures set forth by the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS) in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.
The Cardinal Mooney conditioning program included both football and basketball players and will gradually expand to include more athletes and other sports. Similar summer conditioning programs also began at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers and St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples.
Ben Hopper, Diocese of Venice Interim Superintendent of Education, said the move to allow athletes and some summer programming at schools comes after extensive planning and coordination with the various schools, consultation with the Diocesan School Board.
“The health and safety of our students is, and will always be, of paramount concern,” Hopper said. “Following guidance from health experts, and in some cases even going beyond those recommendations, the Diocese is confident that the protocols set forth provide the necessary balance to ensure everyone is safe.”
To participate in the summer conditioning program, student-athletes were sent a packet of information about Phase One and the new procedures put in place to protect the student-athletes as well as the numerous guidelines they must follow, some of which include:
- Temperature screening taken daily upon arrival;
- Athletic clearance with a physical by a doctor;
- Have a personal water bottle;
- A COVID-19 liability form signed by parents;
- Self-screening form signed and dated daily by a parent;
- Social distance by remaining six-feet apart at all times;
- Arrive and leave with a face mask.
New head coaches Jared Clark, football, and Clayton Slentz, basketball, were on hand to facilitate the workouts on the Cardinal Mooney Athletic Field. Summer conditioning started at 8 a.m. and lasted about an hour. Workouts are done without masks as health officials note that doing so could cause serious health issues unrelated to COVID-19.
“It feels good to have our student-athletes back on campus and I believe they were happy to be here too, even with the new procedures,” said Assistant Athletic Director Julie Santiago. “We are constantly assessing the situation to make sure we are following all the new guidelines.”
“It felt good to be with the team again and with the new coaches,” said Beau Christensen, a rising Cardinal Mooney Junior. “The energy out on the field was great and since we were outside, no one came in contact with each other, so I felt safe with the changes in place.”
Each sport will have its own guidelines to follow. Basics include no sharing of equipment, no contact with each other and extra sanitizing between usage of any equipment. As noted in the paperwork provided to parents, the guidelines are subject to change and will be reevaluated and adjusted accordingly so as to remain compliant with CDC, federal, state and local regulations. Daily temperature screenings will be done. In the event a student-athlete or coach tests positive for COVID-19 that individual will be required to remain off campus and quarantined for 14 days.
In addition to athletes, Bishop Verot welcomed incoming freshman for a summer reading program. The students were placed in the cafeteria and seated at least six-feet apart.
At St. Francis Xavier Catholic School, a summer art program started on June 8, 2020. Each blooming artist had their own table to work from and individual sets of supplies so as to draw, paint and build.
Having athletes back and a few summer camps going on are just the first step in the process of working toward opening for in-class instruction in August.
“Each step in this process will require extensive planning and flexibility from our faculty and staff as well as from our students and parents,” Hopper said. “This is all new for everyone, so prayers and patience are needed as everyone works together toward that common goal in just a few months.”