SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — As CBS13 first reported, thousands of kids travel out of state to play sports every weekend because youth sports competition is still not allowed in California. Many more kids have holiday travel plans.
So, what’s being done to keep their in-person classes COVID-free when they return? The state advises a 14-day quarantine after travel but CBS13 has learned most schools do not.
On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom made an example of a team that traveled to Arizona to play in a tournament and returned home with several cases of COVID-19. He urged teams to stop traveling to play sports.
“There was a baseball team that went to Phoenix, Arizona, went to Arizona, came back a lot of positive cases, even young, healthy individuals tested positive as well as their coaches and some of the family members,” Gov. Newsom said.
The team the governor referenced on Monday is one of many traveling out of state to play because California is one of the few states where kids still aren’t allowed to compete. According to tournament organizers, however, the vast majority of teams that have traveled so far have not had issues with COVID outbreaks.
Many have argued that the travel itself is a higher risk than the actual competition on the field. They’ve lobbied the state to update youth sports guidance, to allow them to compete locally so that they no longer have to travel out of state to play other local teams.
However, the governor said Monday that updated youth sports guidance has been delayed again due to the recent COVID-19 spike in the state.
In the meantime, leagues and clubs have been coming up with their own COVID-19 guidelines, which can vary greatly.
For example, CBS13 interviewed Russ and Chris, two soccer dads from different counties. Russ’s son’s soccer club requires a 14-day quarantine after they return from out-of-state competition. In contrast, Chris’s son’s club only requires a 2-day quarantine for one game and 5 days after tournament play.
“They’re completely ignoring the average incubation period of COVID-19,” Russ said when heard about the quarantine policy for Chris’s club.
The dads note that their teams are likely to play each other at a tournament in Arizona. All the more reason, they say, for the state to issue consistent youth sports guidance statewide.
“We are in different counties that do have different requirements,” Chris said.
“And different beliefs about COVID as well,” Russ pointed out.
And “different politics,” Chris added, in agreement.
Russ’s kids are still distance learning while Chris’s are back in school. But when Chris called his school to ask how long his kids should quarantine after playing a game in Reno he was told, “the school doesn’t have any kind of mandates for that.”
While the governor’s voluntarily travel advisory does recommend a 14-day quarantine, CBS13 surveyed local school districts and found that none of the districts that responded had a quarantine policy for students returning from travel.
Many point to the state’s school reopening framework and other school guidance which simply doesn’t reference travel at all.
“That is concerning with the holidays around the corner,” Chris said.
While schools do have policies for kids with symptoms, kids can be asymptomatic spreaders. With the holidays around the corner, and without school quarantine policies, many like Chris and Russ worry sports could soon be the least of the COVID-spread concerns.
The California Department of Public Health did not respond to our requests for information on Tuesday. Among other things, CBS13 asked if the state recommended schools abide by the 14-day quarantine.
We also asked for details about the youth sports team that Newsom said had experienced an outbreak following an Arizona tournament. The state would not reveal which county the team was from or if health officers had identified whether the virus was contracted on the field or through other travel-related activities.