Dave Boyd Field at Santa Maria High will be a busy place starting Sept. 21 as sports teams will be allowed to return to campus for conditioning workouts. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The three schools of the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District are eyeing a start date of Sept. 21 for their sports teams to return to campus for conditioning workouts, Assistant Superintendent John Davis said Tuesday.

The district has set up strict COVID-19 safety guidelines for the student athletes at Santa Maria, Righetti and Pioneer Valley high schools to follow in Phase One of its “Return to Activities.”

“Athletic directors and administrators will review CIF, county and district Return to Activities guidelines with coaches and players,” district officials said.

The three Santa Maria public high schools are members of the CIF Central Section.

St. Joseph High, a private school in Santa Maria, is also in the Central Section. It resumed athletic activities last week. The school started a return to activities in late June only to be shut down in July after coronavirus cases spiked in Santa Barbara County.

At Santa Ynez High, Athletic Director Ashley Coelho said fall varsity sports teams will start conditioning workouts on Sept. 14, and JV and freshmen will begin on Sept. 28. The spring sports teams will commence workouts on Oct. 12.

Coelho said the protocol calls for athletes to work in pods of 14, with a maximum of two coaches. They will be able to lift weights outdoors, use the swimming pool for lane swimming and condition on the fields or track.

Cabrillo and Lompoc received the approval from the Lompoc Unified School District to begin outdoor conditioning workouts on Sept. 8.

In the Santa Barbara Unified School District, the athletic directors at Santa Barbara High, San Marcos and Dos Pueblos are scheduled to meet with district leadership on Sept. 8 to discuss a reopening date.

“We should have more information after that meeting,” said Dan Feldhaus, the AD at Dos Pueblos.

“We have the plan ready for reopening, with the CIF and county recommendations,” Abe Jahadhmy of San Marcos said.

Carpinteria Athletic Director Pat Cooney said his school district hasn’t informed him of a possible start date for athletics to return to campus. He expects the district will likely follow the lead of the other schools in the county.

The three Santa Barbara schools, Carpinteria, Santa Ynez, Cabrillo and Lompoc are members of the CIF-Southern Section.

Rob Wigod, the commissioner of the CIF-SS, said in an update to member schools and the media that it’s encouraging to seen more schools conducting conditioning workouts on campuses and following safety and health guidelines recommended by state and local authorities.

“As these workouts continue to take place at more and more of our member schools, and prove to be done successfully, that is certainly a positive step in the right direction,” he said. “I want to thank our principals, athletic directors and coaches for their ongoing commitment in guiding our student-athletes through these challenging times in a healthy and safe way. We must continue to vigorously follow the advice of our health professionals as we navigate through the critical weeks and months ahead as things hopefully open up even more.”

The CIF has set up a two-season sports calendar for the 2020-21 school year. The first season is scheduled to begin in December and January with girls and boys volleyball, girls and boys water polo, boys and girls cross country, football and competitive cheer.

The spring season sports will start in February and March. The sports include baseball, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls golf, boys and girls lacrosse, boys and girls soccer, softball, obys and girls swimming, boys and and girls tennis, boys and girls track & field and boys and girls wrestling.

Wigod said athletes, coaches, parents and fans shouldn’t get discouraged that fall sports have started in other states.

“You have no doubt heard that there are some states around our nation who have begun their fall seasons of sport, including allowing spectators in the stands,” he said. “I have been asked if that makes us in the Southern Section and California feel we are being left behind. Quite the contrary, as I believe the lessons learned from the experiences in other states can be applied to the time period we have available to us prior to the beginning of our 2020-2021 sports calendars and will provide valuable information to us for what lies ahead.”

The teams in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District be permitted to conduct Phase One workouts provided their coaches have received training on outdoor public safety.

Phase One guidelines include include coaches working with the same 10 athletes for a week in pods, with pods remaining 20 feet apart at all times.

The focus of Phase One should be reintroduction of sport-specific movement, individual drills and overall conditioning, said the district.

Student athletes will not be allowed to use gyms, weight rooms, pools or sport specific equipment. Any equipment used can’t shared; physical contact will not be allowed and  6 feet of social distancing will be strictly enforced.

The district said that prior to any participation student athletes must have a Return to Activity Waiver signed by parent/guardian agreeing to the requirement to self-assess their child for any COVID-19 symptoms. 

The student athletes must complete an athletic clearance packet and have a current health screening on file. They also must bring their own water bottle to workouts.

Even with all the guidelines and regulations. Righetti Athletic Director Kevin Barbarick is thrilled about the student athletes returning to campus

“I’m excited for this opportunity, for our community and its athletes,” he said. “I also commend district leadership for enabling programs to return to play.” 

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at bpunzal@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Barry Punzal, Sports Editor

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at bpunzal@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.