Tyler Copeland participates in a defensive back drill at a McNary football workout on Tuesday, Oct. 6 (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

After entering a modified moratorium period from Aug. 31 to Oct. 4, a number of McNary student-athletes returned to practicing at school facilities earlier this week. 

McNary athletic director Scott Gragg said that many of the workouts and safety protocols will be similar to the ones that took place over the summer.

“We’re off to a good start so far,” Gragg said. 

Student-athletes and coaches will be operating under phase two guidance from the OSAA — which involves limiting sharing of balls within pods, frequent disinfecting of equipment and maintaining social distancing.

However, one of the differences will be that both coaches and players will be required to wear a mask at all times — athletes weren’t required to wear masks over the summer.

“We wanted to make it as simple and as safe as possible, that’s why we’re having everyone wear a mask,” Gragg said. 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) to delay the beginning of the athletic season until at least January — currently, all three sports seasons are scheduled to play from January until June.

The time from Aug. 31 to Dec. 27 has been designated by the OSAA as Season 1. During this time, the permission of sports and activities will not be designated by the OSAA, it will instead be at the discretion of local school districts.

While some schools throughout the state have been holding workouts for the first month of Season 1, the Salem-Keizer School District elected to use the time from Aug. 31 to Oct. 4 to have students focus solely on getting acclimated with online distance learning. 

Now that teams in the area are getting back to the practice field, the district has structured three sub-seasons into the Season 1 formula.

Oct. 5-28 will be considered Season 1A and the priority will be for spring sports athletes — baseball, softball, track & field and tennis. Fall sports (football, soccer, volleyball, cross country) will be second in priority and winter sports (basketball, wrestling, swimming) will be third.  

Season 1B will take place Oct. 29-Nov. 30 — with a modified moratorium during Thanksgiving break. Fall sports will be the top priority during this time with winter sports being second and spring sports third.

The final sub-season, 1C, is scheduled for Dec.1-24 with winter sports having top priority. 

For McNary student-athletes, when a seasonal sport is top priority, it means they have the opportunity to have workouts three times per week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). Secondary priority sports get to practice twice per week (Tuesday and Thursday). 

McNary sports that are considered a third priority during a sub-season will not be allowed to do in-person workouts. 

“I felt like we didn’t want to overdo it and make a student-athlete have to put one sport over another,” Gragg said. 

However, multi-sport athletes can attend practice for two different teams throughout a week. For example, if a student-athlete plays both football and baseball, they could attend football workouts on Tuesdays and Thursdays of Season 1A and baseball workouts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

“There aren’t as many cohort restrictions as there were in July and August,” Gragg said. 

Participation in any Season 1 workouts or practices is completely voluntary and the decision to participate will not be used in determining placement for teams this season.