High school athletes got the news they’ve been waiting a long time for.
Games in higher-risk sports can start as soon as next week in Southwest Washington after Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that the Southwest Region has reached the threshold to move to Phase 2 of the Healthy Washington reopening plan.
The move becomes effective on Monday.
That means games in sports like girls soccer, volleyball and slowpitch softball could start as early as Tuesday in the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League, Washougal athletic director Gary McGarvie said.
The league plans to hold its first football games on Friday, Feb. 19, although this weekend’s weather could cancel practices and lead teams to push those games to Saturday.
The 1A Trico League also plans to open its football schedule on Feb. 19. Volleyball and girls soccer teams are scheduled to play their first games on Thursday, Feb. 18.
The 4A/3A Greater St. Helens League will commence games the week of Feb. 22, Camas athletic director Rory Oster said.
The 4A/3A GSHL decided to give football, volleyball and girls soccer teams a week of full practice to hold tryouts and make final roster decisions before starting play. The 4A/3A GSHL season for those sports will extend to April 3.
However, slowpitch softball teams can start playing games next week, weather permitting, Oster said.
Goldendale will leave the Class 2B Eastern Washington Athletic Conference for this school year and will join Trico League. Most of the schools in the EWAC reside in the South Central Region, which includes Yakima and Tri-Cities areas. That was the lone region in the state not to qualify to move to Phase 2 on Monday and won’t be eligible to make that move now until March 1.
The Southwest Region reached three of the four metrics to be eligible – a 30% reduction in the number of new COVID-19 cases (a 10% reduction is needed), a 14% reduction in the number of new COVID-19 hospitalizations (a 10% reduction is needed) and an ICU capacity of 71% (a number below 90% is required). The one metric the region missed is a positivity rate of less than 10%. The region’s number fell to 14%.
Regions will remain eligible to remain at Phase 2 if they continue to meet three of the four metrics, and the two metrics than measure decline simply need to remain flat (i.e. not show an increase of greater than 10%). The state will reassess a region’s eligibility every two weeks.