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Santa Maria high schools developing plans to resume on-campus athletics after delay
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Santa Maria high schools developing plans to resume on-campus athletics after delay

As other area school districts developed, finalized and announced plans to have student-athletes return to campus for voluntary workouts this week, Pioneer Valley athletic director Jeff Monteiro said his district is lagging behind.

Monteiro says the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District didn't have the same sense of urgency to ensure the three Santa Maria public high schools were prepared for a potential fall sports season.

"Based off my knowledge, as of last Friday, I didn't have any direction for reopening," Monteiro said Thursday.

Monteiro got some relief after Tuesday's district board meeting when assistant superintendent John Davis said the district was forming a committee to develop some return-to-play guidelines.

“We do have a set of guidelines that were just put out by CIF last Friday," Davis said at Tuesday's board meeting that was held virtually. "We have a committee put together that includes all our athletic directors and some of our site administrators that are looking at developing a plan which (we) will eventually bring to the board for that reopening and reinstigation of interscholastic athletics on our campuses.”

Monteiro says that after the announcements of detailed plans from surrounding school districts were published this week, things finally began to move in a direction he felt was appropriate.

"Based on what has happened since the board meeting Tuesday night, a lot of movement has taken place," Monteiro added.

Monteiro said inquiries from media and some help from the County Board of Supervisors appears to have nudged the district into preparing for a possible sports season once school returns.

"I'm thankful for county leadership and the direction they’ve provided us for moving forward," Monteiro said, adding that parents, coaches and student-athletes can be assured that he, and he believes the district, will take the necessary steps to have school sports if the conditions allow amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"We are going to do everything in our power to provide athletic opportunities that are granted to us under the state of California, the state CIF and the county of Santa Barbara, following the direction of our school officials," Monteiro said. 

The CIF State office said it will determine by July 20 if the fall season of sports will go ahead as scheduled. The high school football season is slated to start Friday, Aug. 21. The last athletic events within the district were held March 11. School was suspended March 16 and ultimately all events and in-class instruction were canceled for the remainder of the school year due to the pandemic.

Regardless of whether sports resume or not, uncertainty surrounds athletics in the district.

Documents obtained from the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District Faculty Association say the district will cut funding for the athletic director position down to a 0.6 full-time equivalence at each site, indicating the district anticipates its three ADs potentially having fewer athletic responsibilities.

But while the district is designating cuts to the three athletic director positions, the faculty association says the cuts do not have to be made.

"The district is cutting two periods of instruction and may fill those two periods with ADs because they don’t see them doing their jobs managing coaches and sports in the fall," Monteiro said. "That’s what was told to me a week ago Friday. If that’s what they think is necessary, then so be it."

Davis, the assistant superintendent, said while a district committee has been put together, he didn't have details about how sports could resume within the district. 

"We have a committee made up of our site (administrators) and athletic directors that (is) developing a plan, based on the CIF guidelines that came out last Friday," Davis said in an email Thursday morning. "I have asked them to have a draft to me by this Friday. Until I have a chance to review the plan, I can't speak to any specifics."

Other schools and districts mostly finalized return-to-play plans for fall sports this week.

St. Joseph High School, which is operated by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, will begin football workouts this Monday and bring other sports back throughout the week.

Lucia Mar's athletic directors, Nipomo High's Russ Edwards and Arroyo Grande's Stephen Field, have worked together to develop a detailed plan for bringing students back to campus as early as July 6.

Claudia Terrones and Gary West, athletic directors within Lompoc Unified School District, have also worked to devise a plan that will have student-athletes preparing for a fall sports season by early July, pending county approval.    

When contacted for details about Santa Maria's plan Tuesday, district spokesman Kenny Klein replied via email that the district is "currently developing a reopening plan. We are working off the CDE Guidebook for Reopening Schools, which was released several days ago."

The guidebook was released June 8. 

Most public schools are relying on the county to give the final go-ahead for students' return to campus for sports. Districts are developing plans that will be submitted to their respective boards and ultimately to the county for final approval. 

Monteiro said he and the other district athletic directors, Brian Wallace of Santa Maria High and Kevin Barbarick of Righetti, have prepared and are ready to bring students back to campus.

"We are prepared, we've done the work," Monteiro said Wednesday. "I've sent info to principals and higher-ups. I’ve sent it up. I’m ready and we've got a plan on how the kids can socially-distance and how to sanitize the facilities. It’s all done."

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  • Updated

The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District said the plan "adheres to guidance provided by the State of California, SB County, California Department of Education (CDE), National Federation of High Schools (NFHS), and the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF)," and that "athletic directors will begin holding coaches meetings to review new rules with an implementation start date of July 6-17."

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