Both the Simcoe County District School Board and the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board will be allowing students to compete provincially in the winter term.
During Wednesday night’s SCDSB trustee board meeting, trustees received a verbal update from superintendent of education Daryl Halliday on athletics, which included an announcement that the board would be allowing students to compete at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association (OFSAA) level again in the winter term. The Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board is sending a letter out on Thursday evening announcing that they will also be allowing their students to participate in OFSAA this winter.
However, both boards have said they will be taking a cautious approach.
“We decided to allow SCDSB student athlete participation... with the understanding that if the situation declines into a new wave, or if COVID-19 cases increase significantly at local levels in our schools, we may need to reconsider participation,” said Halliday.
At the Catholic school board, Superintendent of Student Achievement Chris Woodcroft is sending a letter to families today which acknowledges the decision made earlier this school year to suspend OFSAA participation for the fall season.
“We made the difficult decision to suspend participation in OFSAA competition in the fall, with a commitment to revisit the situation for our winter season,” noted Woodcroft in the letter. “In keeping with our approach of slowly and cautiously re-introducing activities, we have approved a plan to make sport-by-sport decisions about participation in OFSAA and other inter-regional competitions for the winter season.”
This means that the board has provided notice to OFSAA that they will be participating, however, decisions on how that can happen will be made on a case-by-case basis after determining which athletes qualify to attend.
The decision to participate will rely on factors such as the current COVID-19 environment, the vaccination requirements of the hosting region, the ability to transport students safely and the potential increased costs associated with overnight travel.
Neither the Simcoe County District School Board nor the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board currently have a mandatory vaccination policy for student athletes.
At the SCDSB meeting on Wednesday night, student trustee Abby Goneau asked how the board is intending to work with venues that require vaccines, such as ski hills and hockey rinks.
“We will be cautioning our students that they need to be prepared that they may be asked at these external venues for their vaccination status,” said Halliday.