Many Changes in Store for WHS Sports During COVID-19

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Watertown High School’s field hockey team, and other sports, will soon start their fall season, but with several changes due to COVID-19.

Weekend games, reduced schedules and very limited fans — these are just some of the changes in store for Watertown High School athletes this fall.

Last week, the School Committee approved the plans for holding high school sports during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most Watertown High School fall sports teams will be getting ready for their season to begin in late September.

Outdoor sports, except for football, will compete this fall. This includes boys and girls soccer, field hockey, boys and girls cross country and golf. Some sports normally held in the fall — football, volleyball, swimming and cheerleading — will be delayed due to COVID-19 concerns and held during the MIAA’s Fall 2 season, which begins in February.

The plan came from a recommendation made by athletic directors and superintendents from the Middlesex League, of which Watertown is a member. Some of the changes include:

  • Teams will be limited to 10 competitions
  • All competitions will be limited to Saturdays and Sundays and holidays (except for golf due to availability of courses), with Sundays mostly used for rain makeups
  • Fans will be very limited, with athletes allowed only to have family members and one guest attend competitions (there are discussions about possibly allowing two guests)

Another rule, in the fall, at least, schools will not provide transportation to games and meets, so parents or caregivers will have to transport athletes, said Watertown Athletic Director Ryan Murphy.

“The Middlesex League will not be providing transportation. Parents will take them and meet up at the location,” Murphy said. “That’s why we had competitions on weekends and holidays — Columbus Day and Veterans Day.”

The transportation rule may change during the school year, Murphy added.

One concern from the School Committee was the Town of Watertown’s rule that face coverings must be work at all time outside, which would mean even cross country runners during competitions.

“My preference would be to have their mask around your neck when running and put it on when you need it (when they are near other runners),” Murphy said.

Last Wednesday, the Watertown Board of Health met and changed the Town’s rules for face coverings so that they only have to be worn outside if they cannot avoid being less than 6 feet from another person.

Some parents have said that they have not been able to schedule physicals, which is a requirement for high school athletes, Murphy said. They asked if their children could skip it for this year.

“Unfortunately, everyone’s physical needs to be renewed every 13 months, and there can be no exception — especially during COVID,” Murphy said. “That being said, anyone who has problem getting a physical can email me directly (ryan.murphy@watertown.k12.ma.us). In a couple of instances, kids couldn’t get a physical until March and we were able to get them one by Sept. 15.”

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