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Jersey Shore student athletes to undergo virus screenings

JERSEY SHORE — All participants in middle and high school extracurricular activities will have to undergo a COVID-19 screening prior to any practice, event or team meeting under recommendations approved by the Jersey Shore Area School Board.

Meeting via a hybrid of livestream and in-person Monday night, the board noted that the recommendations were formulated from guidelines issued by various entities.

“There were guidelines sent out by the National Federation of High Schools. Then schools put together their own from those guidelines, incorporating Gov. Wolf’s guidelines and the CDC guidelines. PIAA never officially came out and said, here’s our guidelines,” said Serena Henry, athletic director at Jersey Shore.

Individuals listed as participants in the extracurricular activities as described in the recommendations approved by the board are defined as the athletic director, athletic trainer, student athletes, band members, cast members in plays and musicals, coaches, band directors, instructors, staff, officials, referees and umpires.

The screenings participants would undergo are dependent on the available resources and what phase level the district is in. The purpose is to check for signs and symptoms of the disease.

Other recommendations include promoting healthy hygiene practices including hand washing and using hand sanitizer. Masks are recommended for employees, if feasible, although participants will not be used for practicing or competing.

Cleaning, disinfection and ventilation of all facilities will be intensified and social distancing will be encouraged. Participants will have to provide their own water bottles and concession stand or other food must adhere to the guidance for businesses in the restaurant industry, according to the recommendations.

When asked if the district could be held liable for contracting the virus because of their participation in the activity, Henry told the board that a waiver is included in the recommendations.

“The participants will sign a waiver that states, these are your precautions and you know you’re taking a risk by being involved with this group,” she stated.

Christopher Kenyon, the board’s solicitor added that the state’s Department of Education had also put out a waiver in their proposed guidelines for use by all districts.

“I think almost every district I’ve seen has incorporated that waiver into the plans,” Kenyon said.

The recommendations also include classifications for various sports as high, moderate or low risk, depending on the amount of close, sustained contact between participants. They also list four different levels, with the district beginning at Level 2 and only going back to Level 1 if the county goes back to the governor’s red phase. All groups will remain at Level 2 for a minimum of two weeks.

The extent of screenings, the size of gatherings, both indoors and outdoors and the degree of cleaning in facilities is determined by the level the district is in.

Once the board approved the recommendations they will now be posted on the district’s website for public viewing and a copy will be sent to PDE.

“‘I’ve worked with the band director to include his activities and the music department with it, to incorporate them into it,” Henry said of the recommendations.

“But, as a PHAC school, we have worked together as athletics directors, so that not only am I writing this, but we wrote it kind of together and took ideas from each other to write it, so we’re all on the same page,” she said.

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