South Dakota High School Activities Association Executive Director Dan Swartos joined us to discuss the latest on the upcoming high school sports season.

Swartos, along with about 30 others, have made a COVID-19 task force that will look at the pandemic and make decisions about the upcoming high school sports season. This task force's goal is to make high school athletics as safe as they can be this upcoming fall.

"What we're trying to do is put something together to allow us to have kids participate when and if they can. We started last Monday and talked about the big questions such as if this is safe to do and procedures and protocols", Swartos said, "Our biggest focus will be having a standardized screening procedure so that if kids from Sioux Falls are going up to Aberdeen or Rapid City to play, that they know and coaches/parents/administrators know that kids are getting screened the same way."

In regards to COVID-19 testing, making kids test for the virus will not be required at this point. Swartos says that the process will include screening questions and temperature readings.

"Collegiate and pro sports are different. You're bringing people together from across the country and they're traveling by airplane to other parts of the country all the time. It's a little different of an animal", said Swartos,..."we'll rely on the department of health to notify the schools if there have been confirmed cases and then through their investigation to notify schools on close contacts."

Rumors have been circling around all summer about the status of high school sports for this upcoming year. Everything from all sports being canceled, to limited crowds, to running everything like normal has been floating around the rumor mill. While nothing is off the table in terms of discussion, Swartos points at the fact that time is on the side of the SDHSAA and schools.

"We've gone through a lot of different scenarios, but the good thing is that we have the full school year to work with. Last spring it just came about. Now we have options and we can figure some things out along the way depending on current circumstances across the state. We know this plan has to be very flexible and reflect a lot of unknowns throughout the year."

The task force will continue to work over the next few weeks to come up with the first plan for the start of the high school season. Swartos says that the plan is to have something drawn up for the SDHSAA Board of Directors by July 20.

"Our goal is to put a proposal in front of our Board of Directors by the week of July 20 to get everything set and get schools a few weeks to get things in place. Our first practices would then be held around that August 5 timeline."

While there is a lot that needs to shake out over the next few weeks, Swartos says that he's cautiously optimistic about the fall season.

"I'm cautiously optimistic about the fall and about our sports. It's going to be a weird year and there's going to be things that will look and feel different. But our goal is to get kids active mentally and physically and to do what we can and when we can, and if that's starts and stops or it looks a little different than it has in the past, then so be it. We're going to do everything we can to give kids the opportunity when it's safe and where it's safe. At the end of the day, that's what our goal is."

Full Interview:

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