Bryan County athletics take varied approach to reopening

Kevin Farr,
The Bryan County News
The football practice field at Durant High School continues to sit empty as the Durant school district opts to take a conservative approach in resuming athletic activities. Limited individual workouts with restrictions were slated to begin at the school this week.

Just over a week ago, the Oklahoma Scholastic Schools Activities Association Board of Directors voted down a three-phase proposal in a 7-6 vote to return to athletic activities, thus opening the door for schools to resume normal operation.

Many Bryan County schools, however, have decided to take a conservative approach with the next OSSAA meeting on the horizon on June 9. According to multiple sources, an amended proposal could be voted on then for schools to return to activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Durant Public Schools administration voted for the original three-phase proposal and is one of several statewide that still elected to begin the process with Phase 1 this week.

That opens activities up slightly, but team practices, camps, clinics and leagues are still banned with only strength and conditioning permitted, albeit with multiple restrictions. Those include temperature checks, continual sanitizing of equipment and masks or cloth face covering for spotters and coaches.

Social distancing requirements must be followed with a limited number of participants in the weight room at one time. Locker rooms in use must also be sanitized before use and after workouts as well as any equipment, such as weights and balls among others.

Phase 1 is slated to continue through June 26 before a scheduled dead period. Phase 2 is scheduled July 6-15, which will still not permit practices, camps, clinics or leagues. Each of those dates and restrictions, however, can be amended at any point.

Durant football coach Todd Vargas is happy to be able to get in-person contact with his players for the first time, but is hopeful the stages get to where where some type of practices can begin in July.

“We are going to follow by the state’s protocol,” Vargas stated. “We will mimic what the state proposed but are hoping to get to do some instruction once July gets here.

“We’re hoping for at least 60-minutes a day at that point. It’s going to be really tough on us if we can’t do that in July after losing spring practice and team camps.”

While Durant is limiting opening back up, Bryan County schools are taking differing approaches.

Caddo is slowly easing back into workouts as is Calera with no athletic competitions, but allowing team members to practice after checking temperatures to enter facilities. Colbert is also taking the conservative approach.

Silo, however, is beginning camps this week along with athletic games soon to start as well.