Ketchikan is not winning at the moment.
Activities for Ketchikan High School have been canceled through the weekend due to novel coronavirus cases traced back to events at Kayhi this past weekend.
Kayhi hosted the Bill Weiss wrestling tournament, as well as its prom. Five positive cases were confirmed from people who attended the wrestling meet, and one individual attended prom, and a parent-sponsored afterparty on Saturday, according to a press release from the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District on Tuesday.
That prompted the school district to close Kayhi on Wednesday, moving classes momentarily online, with a plan to reopen to in-person learning on Thursday.
But the news didn’t get any better on Wednesday, when two more cases were confirmed, with at least one stemming from the Kayhi cluster.
But before the two cases were announced on Wednesday, Kayhi Activities Director Cole Maxwell, Kayhi Principal Jason House and Superintendent Beth Lougee met to discuss how to move forward, with the ensuing athletic schedule.
Girls’ soccer was supposed to host Juneau-Douglas High School on Thursday and Friday; boys’ soccer was hosting Thunder Mountain High School on Friday and Saturday.
Sitka High School’s softball team was scheduled to travel to Kayhi to play the Lady Kings on Friday and Saturday, as well, with both the baseball and track and field teams traveling out of town to Sitka.
“This morning, we met — the district nurses and Beth Lougee and Jason House, and I — and just talked through what we knew as information, at 9, this morning, and where we believed things were headed based on things we knew,” Maxwell said on Wednesday. “And at that point in time, we just decided that it was just too many unknowns, as far as, what other sports were going to be affected (with the) positives that we knew of.”
At that point, the trio wasn’t aware of Wednesday’s results.
“And so, just out of an abundance of caution, we thought, ‘We just need to take the weekend and figure out exactly where this is at,’” Maxwell continued.
And so, what’s become all too common for Kayhi athletes in recent months, became true once again.
All athletics are called off until Monday.
Both Kayhi boys’ and girls’ basketball teams lost nearly an entire month’s worth of games, due to COVID-19, in Februrary. Although since then, Kayhi athletics had managed to stay afloat.
“Things were going really well for a long time,” Maxwell said. “I would really like to see ASAA, as a community, get further along the path of vaccinations. Because when we go through a quarantining protocol, the people who do not have to quartantine are those who are vaccinated.”
Opposing schools were understanding of the situation. Even though the community is still listed at a ‘level 2’ risk level for COVID-19, which still allows for athletics, Maxwell said “there were just too many unknowns.”
The activity directors from all of the schools are currently working on rescheduling games that will be missed.
“Nobody wants to take the chance,” he said. “... So we decided to reschedule the games from this weekend. ... None of it is rescheduled completely, yet. But (we’re) working with (each other).”
But that means, Juneau-Douglas, Thunder Mountain and Sitka have to rework their schedules, too.
“It can get exasperating,” Maxwell said. “You make all these plans — and everyone does. ... The coaches have geared their practice schedules around these games. The kids are building up to play whomever they’re playing, and getting themselves mentally prepared for that. And then you have to say, ‘No. Forget it.’
“In some ways, it’s a little frustrating. (But) in the end, it’s, ‘What’s the safest thing we can do?’ he continued. “Not only for our kids, but for all of the kids that we play against, and as long as I occassionally remind myself of that, the frustration goes away.”
Athletic schedules for the weekend of May 7-8 are still in place.
Girls’ soccer is scheduled to travel to Thunder Mountain next weekend; track and field will travel to Juneau, as well.
Both baseball and softball are supposed to play at home on May 7-8, hosting teams from the capital city. Baseball hosts Thunder Mountain for its home opener. Softball hosts Juneau-Douglas, for its final two home games of the season.
“We’re not going to change anything until we have to,” Maxwell said. “And then we’re going to try to squeeze a few of these games that we had to cancel this weekend in. ... We have to be as creative as we can.”
As Kayhi is closed the rest of this week, moving to online-learning only, athletics would’ve been called off this weekend, anyways. It is in Kayhi’s mitigation plan that sports cannot be played while there is 0% in-person learning.
It just so happened that this time athletics was ahead of the game.
“If our kids are competing, we are winning,”Maxwell said. “Unfortunately, this week, we are not winning.”
Vaccinations might be key
There is hope that the more people that are vaccinated, the less likely this stop-and-go aspect to Kayhi’s athletic seasons — and in-person to online learning — would continue like bad bumper-to-bumper traffic. And those inside Kayhi are doing their part.
“We have a group of kids who have their first (vaccine shot),” Maxwell said. “We actually have a handful who are fully vaccinated, as well. Not too many, right now, but working our way up there.”
And that gives hope. Slowly but surely, the community might get there.
“That’ll be fantastic,” Maxwell said. “I mean, it would be an interesting conversation to have — if three-quarters of the high school was vaccinated, would you really ever have to close?
“Because you wouldn’t have to quarantine them. Three-quarters of them could always show up,” he continued. “That could potentially be a huge boost for us, as a school and as a community.”