Getting Answers: concerns over student-athlete COVID-19 protocols

Getting Answers: concerns over student-athlete COVID-19 protocols
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 3:30 PM EDT
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BELCHERTOWN, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - A concerned parent reached out to our newsroom about the COVID-19 policies at Belchertown High School. He told us the rules that apply to student athletes are keeping his kids out of practice and he thinks protocols should change.

John Adamson has two juniors at Belchertown High School who both run track. He told us they are at risk for not going to their upcoming track meet because of Belchertown High School’s COVID-19 policies.

Last Friday, Adamson’s two sons tested positive for COVID-19, were asymptomatic, but are now in isolation until Thursday. He said Belchertown school policies allows the students to return back to school after five days from the positive test. However, he said his boys are not able to attend their track practices just yet.

“They require, only student-athletes, to have a physical exam from their PCP specifically. We are told it has to be their PCP,” Adamson noted.

Adamson said Belchertown schools requires the students to get cleared by their primary care physician before returning to practice or games. However, the Adamson family’s PCP won’t see them until 10 days from their positive test.

“They then have to go through a subsequent screening from their athletic trainer,” Adamson explained.

Both of Adamson’s sons are hoping to compete in a track meet next Saturday, but only two days prior will they be able to see their doctor and they’ll still need to see the athletic trainer before being cleared.

“We cannot get in with our PCP until next Thursday, which then means we need an immediate turn around and accommodation from the athletic trainer to say your kid is fine and, at the same time, she could overrule a board-certified physician,” Adamson said.

This type of return-to-play policy was the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) standard practice as we learned from a document we found dated from March of last year, but we reached out to the MIAA and found their policy has changed. They now leave those decisions up to local districts.

Adamson believes these policies single out student athletes and are not practical or fitting for how the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved.

“All of this becomes somewhat personal because I have two student-athletes who missed their freshman year due to the pandemic. Last year, they had a very truncated schedule. They both earned the right to compete in the western Mass. championship meet next Saturday…Consistently, Belchertown High School has failed to do, which is evolve their practices as the pandemic has changed,” Adamson said.

We’ve reached out to the superintendent of Belchertown Public Schools, along with the principal and athletic director at the high school, and no one responded to our request for comment.