Oregon high school football reaches its non-contact phase with hope for a Spring season

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On Wednesday, Oregon governor Kate Brown announced that the Oregon Health Authority is revising its guidance for outdoor sports, which could open the door for high school football this spring. The announcement came two days after schools were allowed to start non-contact football workouts.

“This has been a difficult year for Oregon’s youth athletes and, as our COVID-19 numbers have dropped, I have been committed to working with our health experts to reevaluate our protocols for sports,” Brown said in a news release. “School sports play an important role in fostering students’ mental, emotional, and physical health. We will proceed with caution, to ensure that teams are following health and safety precautions to protect our athletes, their families, and their communities.”

Beginning this week, outdoor contact sports will be permitted to resume with health and safety protocols in place based on county risk level. In Lower Risk and Moderate Risk counties, practices and games for outdoor contact sports, including high school football, can resume following health and safety guidance to be issued by the Oregon Health Authority.

In High Risk and Extreme Risk counties, where COVID-19 remains more widespread, schools and other sports organizations can opt-in to resuming outdoor contact sports with additional protocols in place. In such counties, sports organizations must offer on-site responsive testing for symptomatic individuals and close contacts, contact information for contact tracing, and a waiver identifying health and safety risks and a commitment to isolation and quarantine if exposed to COVID-19.

Schools in Extreme and High Risk counties wishing to opt in for outdoor contact sports must meet the requirements for sports organizations above, and must also have at least limited in-person instruction occurring, with the goal of achieving hybrid or full in-person instruction for students this school year. Schools must also be in compliance with state guidance for COVID-19 testing. All Oregon counties currently meet the COVID-19 case count advisory metrics for limited in-person instruction. As of February 12, 11 Oregon counties in High Risk, including Portland metro-area counties, will also meet the advisory metrics threshold, under 200 cases per 100,000, to return to at least hybrid in-person instruction.

From the Office of Governor Kate Brown

In December, the Oregon School Activities Association laid-out plans to play a six-week high school football season that will begin March 1. If the state’s governing body can’t find a way to allow contact workouts for football, it has approved contingency plans that would allow 7-on-7 and flag competitions.

Related: Oregon moves high school football to 2021

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About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.