State of emergency pauses school sports

The Yukon government announced a state of emergency under the Civil Emergency Measures Act on Nov. 8, to take effect on Nov. 13, 2021.

Some of the new measures include mandatory masking in indoor public settings, limits on personal gatherings, limits on organized gatherings, limits on seated ticketed events, limits on faith-based and cultural gatherings, restrictions on restaurants, bars and nightclubs, restrictions on personal services, limits on other indoor public spaces and possible closure of individual workplaces.

Dr. Catherine Elliott, acting Chief Medical Officer of Health for the Yukon, is also recommending schools remain open with students wearing masks when seated at desks in classrooms.

Notably for sports and recreation enthusiasts, the measures include restrictions on gyms, fitness and yoga studios. Per the release, high intensity classes are suspended and proof of vaccination will be required for low-intensity classes and organized sports.

The acting CMOH has also recommended activities between schools be suspended until further notice, effectively halting the high school volleyball season indefinitely and casting some doubt on if the basketball season will be begin as scheduled.

Elliott said that the pause on school sports is believed to be “short-lived.”

“School sports are a really important part of health and well-being in schools, and they are something that many young people train for, work hard for and look forward to,” Elliott said. “The recommendation to suspend sports between schools is a short-lived, temporary measure that we are using to reduce group sizes … and mixing in our community.”

Elliott encouraged student-athletes to continue training and playing scrimmages within their schools, noting many of this summer’s Olympians faced similar challenges in staying competition-ready during the pandemic.

“I am hoping that we will be able to get these things back and going as soon as possible,” Elliott said.

A distinction between school sports and other ongoing activities was also made, as Elliott explained that the proof of vaccination required for most organized sports and other measures taken directly by sport groups have combined to allow organized activities to continue for the time being.

“People will find that we’ve done the best we can to keep things going while reducing the risk,” Elliott said. “For many sports and clubs this means proof of vaccination … and we’ve also recommended a number of other measures in terms of group sizes, capacity limits, and other things to keep those things going. It really is a balance and I’m sure any of us, if we stay up late at night and look in all the weeds and (at the) nitty-gritty, can find inconsistencies – that’s true in all areas of life.

In an email to Yukon Sports Report on the afternoon of Nov. 10, Sport Yukon said it is “seeking more clarification and guidance from the (Yukon government’s sport and recreation branch) about how the guidelines will affect the sporting world.”

The Yukon Senior Volleyball Championships had been scheduled for Nov. 25 to 27 in Whitehorse, with the Shaw Memorial Basketball Tournament set for Dec. 9 to 11.

Information on proof of vaccination can be found here.