The dominos are falling in Anchorage high school sports.
On Thursday came a triple-whammy of pandemic-related cancellations and suspensions:
• The Cook Inlet Conference tennis championships, set to run Friday and Saturday at the Alaska Club East, have been canceled.
• The volleyball season was suspended for two weeks because of multiple team quarantines.
• Friday night’s varsity football game between Dimond and Service was called off because the Dimond varsity squad has been quarantined.
“The spread we are seeing in the greater Anchorage area is definitely affecting our sports teams at this juncture unfortunately,” said Kersten Johnson, ASD senior director of secondary schools.
The volleyball season, which began Sept. 15, is being suspended until Oct. 16.
Five of the district’s eight volleyball teams have been impacted by COVID-19 and two student-athletes have tested positive for the disease, Johnson said.
“Basically it’s been a domino effect since we’re in-season,” she said. “Kids came to matches and practices unbeknownst they were positive. We’ve gotten into a situation where there’s five schools, and that’s more than half the teams.
"We hit that tipping point where we had to say we’ve got to take a pause.”
Volleyball is one of eight sports that are being contested right now in Anchorage’s eight public high schools. All of them except riflery have been affected by the virus that causes COVID-19, Johnson said.
“They’ve all had at least one person who has had to be isolated or quarantined," she said. "We’re working with the health department on all of those cases.”
Among the latest teams to be quarantined are Dimond’s varsity football team, Bartlett’s JV football team and West High’s varsity and junior varsity volleyball teams, Johnson said.
Last week, C-level volleyball teams at Dimond, Service and West and the C-level football team at West were all quarantined.
Of the eight sports happening now, five are indoor sports — volleyball, tennis, swimming, gymnastics and riflery. Football, flag football and cross country are outdoor sports.
Tennis started the season outdoors but finished indoors. Riflery is happening virtually, with teams competing at their own ranges and then comparing results.
The CIC tennis championships were set to begin Friday at the Alaska Club East even though several players from South and Service are quarantined. Seedings were announced Wednesday night, but by Thursday afternoon the tournament was called off.
“We will use regular season standings to send eligible athletes” to the Oct. 10 state championships, Johnson said.
She said the district is paying particular attention to indoor sports as winter approaches — and with it, basketball and wrestling, indoor sports with significant close contact between teammates and opponents.
“That’s definitely something we’re paying attention to,” she said.
ASD superintendent Deena Bishop announced the two-week shutdown of volleyball in an email sent to parents on Thursday afternoon.
“I want to share with you that earlier today, ASD announced the closure of our high school volleyball program for 14 days due to an increasing number of individual cases resulting in multiple team quarantines,” the email said. “While mitigation procedures have been successful thus far in limiting secondary exposure in our gyms and fields, ASD believes this action was necessary to prevent further spread of COVID-19 within the bubble of the volleyball program as well as the greater community."
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