This spring, high school senior Nathan Kassis will play baseball in the shadow of covid-19 — wearing a neck gaiter under his catcher’s mask, sitting 6 feet from teammates in the dugout and trading elbow bumps for hugs after wins.
“We’re looking forward to having a season,” said the 18-year-old catcher for Dublin Coffman High School, outside Columbus, Ohio. “This game is something we really love.”
Kassis, whose team has started practices, is one of the millions of young people getting back onto ballfields, tennis courts and golf courses amid a decline in covid cases as spring approaches. But pandemic precautions portend a very different season this year, and some school districts still are delaying play — spurring spats among parents, coaches and public health experts across the nation.
Since fall, many parents have rallied for their kids to be allowed to play sports and objected to some safety policies, such as limits on spectators. Doctors, meanwhile, haven’t reached a consensus on whether contact sports are safe enough, especially indoors. While children are less likely than adults to become seriously ill from covid, they can still spread it, and those under 16 can’t be vaccinated yet.
Less was known about the virus early in the pandemic, so high school sports basically stopped last spring, starting up again in fits and spurts…