Many junior high and high school sports practices are beginning across the Central Valley with various precautions in place.
It's an encouraging step for athletes and school district leaders.
And now, the move into the red tier for Fresno County has prompted many school districts to start physical conditioning.
Tulare, Kings, Merced and Madera Counties remain in the purple category- but some school districts in this tier are also beginning to practice outdoors in smaller groups.
For six months many local sports fields have been deserted. But slowly athletes will be returning to fields, courts and pools.
"It's just nice to see positive momentum towards a hopeful resumption of high school athletics in December and January," said Ryan Tos, CIF Central Section Commissioner.
Tos said the decision was made earlier this summer to leave training and practice up to local school districts. As cases have declined over the past few weeks- many are resuming training.
Athletic conditioning is underway in Fresno, Clovis, Visalia and other districts. It means outdoor weight training in small, spread out pods is now permitted.
"At this point, we're not sharing equipment, and we're maintaining social distancing. So our student athletes and our coaches have to remain six feet away from each other," said Dr. Tamara Ravalin, Superintendent of the Visalia Unified School District.
In Visalia- many teams are doing running and strength training with free weights- which are cleaned between each use. Students and coaches are only practicing outdoors and must wear masks except when they are engaged in physical activity.
School leaders say it's important for athletes to have adequate time to train and get back in optimum shape to compete in winter.
So if we're able to start that we need to make sure that our students are in good enough shape that they don't have unnecessary injuries when they start competitions.
For Fresno County schools- the move into the red tier has been encouraging to many school districts who are optimistic about what this means for sports and possibly a return to in person school within the next few months.
"Moving into the red tier has helped our kids, our students be able to have additional opportunities at our school sites which we're very happy about. We want to make sure we keep it in that tier or even better," saidClovis Unified Deputy Superintendent, Norm Anderson.
"I think it's just as important for the student's mental health as it is for their physical conditioning just to be back amongst their friends- back with their teams," said Tos.
At this point- no physical contact is allowed during conditioning sessions.
Also- other activities including choir and band practice is still delayed at a majority of campuses.
Many local schools begin conditioning in preparation for fall sports competitions
Athletic conditioning is underway in Fresno, Clovis, Visalia and other districts.
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