Think about it. Your kid (or nephew, or granddaughter or maybe you’re just a fan of a particular local high school sports team) is doing well during their football, volleyball or cross country season and the post-season is approaching. You’re looking forward to making a run at a state championship.

But suddenly, someone on the team or connected to the team gets sick and boom, your entire team is quarantined.

If that happens right before a playoff game, substate or state, your team will have to forfeit. There is no opportunity for postponements. You are done.

We’ve seen plenty of schools across Kansas miss volleyball and football games over the last few weeks. While the trend has shown few to no examples of serious illness as a result of positive cases, with quarantined kids usually skating through just fine, the real damage in that scenario would be the missed opportunities and lifetime memories for kids playing a sport they love.

The active caseload in some rural counties has been low enough that some of those areas’ protocols for sporting events are probably overdone. Fortunately, there seems to be movement to pull back on the extremely restrictive protocols being used when kids come into contact with positive cases or are positive themselves.

Medical professionals seem to be moving away from the concept of harsh lockdowns and an isolation mentality.

“The Great Barrington Declaration” a document published on Oct. 4 by three renowned professors at Harvard, Oxford and Stanford, with expertise in epidemiology (among other health and medical fields), and co-signed by a growing number of medical and public health scientists and medical practitioners, encourages an approach to this pandemic called “Focused Protection.” They encourage the resumption of normal life for those who are not vulnerable, namely young and healthy people, while better protecting those who are at highest risk – the old and infirm. Read the full text below or at gbdeclaration.org.

It says kids need to be in school, active and participating in sports. But the COVID protocols adopted by schools and the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) have not yet adjusted, leaving little gray area for kids testing positive for COVID and what that means for their teams.

In response to the Great Barrington Declaration and the further understanding of this pandemic, KSHSAA and our schools should consider updating their policies away from drastic quarantines.

But until they do, we are subject to the existing quarantine rules, which force our kids into a very black and white situation. With the post-season looming, and no prospect of updated policies in the next week or two, I have a suggestion as a parent of kids who like sports – avoid the risk. Lead a more boring life for a bit.

If you’re around someone who is coughing, stay away from them. If you’re feeling ill, stay home. If you’re in a particularly risky, crowded situation, wear a mask. If you have to go out, enjoy some of the options available in our low-case county rather than traveling elsewhere.

Science, backed by experts, will eventually bring updates to school quarantine rules. Until then, we have championships to win and we don’t want to miss out because of a sudden COVID quarantine. 

— Dan Thalmann

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