Sports guidelines change in response to Omicron surge


Mattingly Germack

Seniors Sean Richardson (#5) and Jacob Yamagishi (#12) run a play during Burlingame’s 54-62 loss on Wednesday, Jan. 12 to Aragon High School in their season’s first league game.

Isaac Bostonmaer, Sports Editor

On Tuesday, Jan. 4, the San Mateo Union High School District (SMUHSD) Superintendent Kevin Skelly announced that indoor sports were postponed until the following week of Jan. 10 due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

“I think they were [postponed] to just be cautious,” said athletic director John Philipopoulos. “Coming off the holidays, the district had an extraordinary amount of positives, and the district thought it would be in our best interest to put a pause on things and get a better idea of where we’re at and where we’re headed, and then make more decisions from there.”

During the duration of postponement, wrestling and basketball turned to practicing and conditioning outside, as indoor activity was prohibited. Outdoor sports, such as soccer, were still able to practice and compete. 

After a week of SMUHSD’s indoor sports being put on hold, they resumed on Jan. 10, but with changes in sports guidelines. All SMUHSD students, including student athletes, are required to follow the latest COVID-19 safety and isolation guidelines issued by the district. In addition to isolation guidance, sports players have to follow updated rules, which limit spectators, require weekly testing and require teams with three or more positive cases at one time to momentarily pause practices and games. The girls’ basketball team and soccer team both faced cancellations last week.

Coaches and players alike for all sports must test at least once a week. Each team has an allotted day for on-site testing. Coaches who miss their test date will not be allowed to attend practices or games until a negative test is provided.

For indoor sports exclusively, a six-spectator limit per player is now enforced in place of general admission. Anyone who wishes to watch, but is not on the spectator list for an indoor game, will not be granted entrance into the facility. However, this change is only temporary and can be lifted if district COVID-19 cases trend downwards. This spectator limit was first enforced at Burlingame on Wednesday, Jan. 12, during the boys’ varsity basketball league opener against Aragon High School. 

Senior and varsity basketball player Jacob Yamagishi, among other Burlingame athletes, is excited about sports being able to continue amid the Omicron surge.

“Obviously, I’m really glad, but it’s up to us to be smart, safe and follow rules so that there’s no disruption to our season, and I think we’re capable of doing that,” Yamagishi said.

Philipopoulos shares a similar sense of optimism about the rest of the sports seasons this year.

“I feel pretty confident that we’re going to push through this,” Philipopoulos said. “If this is only a couple week long surge, I think we can get by, especially considering most of our students are vaccinated and a good number of them are boosted.”