Maintaining Athletics Programs During Omicron Surge
Track and field programs in southwest Missouri have faced the push of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, and Monett has used a next-man philosophy to keep his teams competitive.
Daryl Bradley, athletic director at Monett, said the primary focus at this time was to keep students and staff safe.
??All our administration, coaches and teachers are in a difficult situation,?? he said. ??We take care of it as best we can and do our best to keep our children safe. We understand that [pandemic] happens, but school is still important, and athletics. We play as much as possible.??
Monett Schools are on a wellness break, which began on Thursday and ends on Monday with students returning on Tuesday.
According to his COVID dashboard on his website, as of 3 p.m. Wednesday, Monett had 138 positive cases districtwide, including 15 in middle school and 36 in high school. Monett also lists 79 are listed as quarantined, including seven in middle school and 15 in high school.
Monett Superintendent Mark Drake said the district is not enforcing quarantines and the numbers represent exposed individuals choosing to follow CDC recommendations and self-quarantine.
During the wellness break, athletics will continue, but Bradley said extra precautions are being taken, including wellness checks before practices and games.
“If a child appears to fall with something, we take precautions to prevent this spreading,? ” he said. ??Our screening process is done by the school nurse and is the same as if they were going to see the school nurse during the day. It includes a temperature and symptom check, and if the athlete falls into either category, they are not allowed to participate.
??We are also keeping the children spread out and limiting contact as much as possible, understand the situation but do our best.??
Bradley said the district hasn’t had any widespread illnesses among teams that prevent them from competing.
??It’s just here and there,?? he said. “We’ve had cases throughout the year, but none with a big enough impact to decimate a team. We have dealt with several scenarios with coaches, but when one is absent, another takes over, both in college and in high school. Our coaches practice what we preach with the next man philosophy.
One thing the district has yet to do is cancel college games.
“We haven’t had to cancel for COVID, but there are scenarios where we don’t have the numbers to play junior college, or we have to limit it,? ” he said. ??But, if we have the numbers, we play.??