As COVID-19 cases spike around the county, the San Diego Unified School District plans to require mandatory vaccinations for all students participating in extracurricular activities, including sports.
The change was announced in a memo sent this week from the district to its 16 high school athletic directors. It also said testing would be required for student athletes participating in indoor sports.
Last month a judge struck down the district’s COVID-19 student vaccination mandate, saying it conflicts with state law. The mandate would have forced unvaccinated students 16 and older to learn remotely via independent study starting Jan. 24.
Scott Giusti, director of physical education, health and athletics for SDUSD, said Tuesday the district’s interpretation is the ruling applies only to the school day, not to extracurricular activities such as athletics, cheer, band and drama.
“We’re trying to keep winter activities going, trying to make sure our athletes/students have a great experience,” Giusti said. “We’re trying to keep everyone safe.”
The district also said in the memo shutting down all non-essential and out-of-season activities would be required.
Giusti said some people “interpreted that as meaning we were shutting down winter athletics. We are not shutting down athletics or any other extracurricular activity this winter.”
What SDUSD is doing is mandating out-of-season sports — football weightlifting, baseball and softball conditioning, band or cheer practice for a competition in April — to pause for three weeks.
“Coming off the holiday break, we anticipated a crescendo in COVID-19 cases,” Giusti said. “As soon as it’s safe, those out-of-season activities can resume. We’re not talking about an extended shutdown period.
“We wanted to be cautious, but nothing has changed as far as in-season sports. Certainly there are challenges at our school sites, but the schools are doing a good job of keeping their students safe.”
Other school districts around the county — Grossmont, Sweetwater, Escondido, Oceanside — are going with a “business-as-usual” policy for now.
Donnie Carroll, director of the Grossmont Athletic Conference said, “We have not made any changes. We did modify the league basketball schedule for Friday to allow Mt. Miguel a home doubleheader. The construction on their gym has been delayed. This gives them an opportunity to host a doubleheader.”
The El Camino High boys and girls basketball teams have re-worked schedules because of COVID-19.
Several schools — San Marcos, Rancho Bernardo, Westview, Francis Parker, La Jolla Country Day and Mater Dei Catholic among them — paused basketball activities over the holiday amid COVID-19 concerns.