OKANOGAN – High school athletes have been practicing under special COVID-19 guidelines issued by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, but some the rules changed Nov. 15 with Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest proclamations.

WIAA’s executive board decided in early October to extend the statewide coaching window though Dec. 19. It had been set to close Nov. 30, but the extension was granted because many schools were unable to practice because of county health metrics and school district decisions.

Inslee, as part of his updated orders concerning virus spread, said indoor activities and all contests and games now are prohibited until at least Dec. 14.

“Outdoor activities shall be limited to intra-team practices only, with facial coverings required for all coaches, volunteers and athletes at all times,” he said.

“Omak School District will be following the governor’s restrictions regarding indoor usage of facilities for practices,” said Omak athletic director Joe LaGrou. “I don’t see us going outside – it is too cold. The gyms will be closed. We will re-evaluate after Dec. 14.”

In Okanogan, practices were changed recently to conform to WIAA guidelines because Okanogan County’s COVID-19 numbers have risen into the WIAA “high risk” category. But Inslee’s proclamation further restricted practices.

“We have adjusted our practices to meet the (category) requirements,” said athletic director Kevin Daling last week, before the latest changes.

Aside from Inslee’s updated rules, WIAA guidelines outline health protocols, mask and physical distancing requirements, hygiene standards, surface and equipment cleaning protocols, ventilation requirements, transportation guidelines, records and contact tracing, Department of Labor and Industries requirements, COVID-19 activity level and so on.

The WIAA high-risk category addresses practices when the COVID-19 incidence rate is above 75 cases per 100,000 population in a 14-day period or a positive test rate higher than 5 percent.

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