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Playing sports is right for my kids. We’re here to support the best decision for your family.

UPDATED: 01/28/2022

I have a seventh grader who loves gymnastics.

I have a high school sophomore who loves basketball.

And I have a job managing the team that analyzes our local public health data—including for COVID-19.

That gave me a lot to think about when schools and sports reopened amid the pandemic!

After I thought about it and talked about it with my kids, I did the same thing I’m sure you did. I made the best decision for my family.

Why sports are so important to my family.

My family places a high value on sports.

My son and daughter love being part of a team. I love that they’re getting daily exercise, and I’ve watched as sports helped them become better people and students.

If you don’t have kids in sports, you might not know how hard the pandemic was for them. My daughter, a Junior Olympic gymnast, spends much of her time doing what she loves. During the summer, she trains up to 32 hours a week!

When organized sports paused, all that physical activity quickly dropped to nearly zero. The kids were unhappy. They were distanced from their friends. The skill and strength they’d worked so hard to develop began to slip away.

I was extra worried because I know exercise plays a big role in mental health. It releases endorphins that make you happier and reduce stress. It provides social connections and countless chances for social and emotional learning.

Much of our work at the Health Department is focused on healthy, resilient children and youth. That was true before COVID-19 and it continue as we learn to live with it going forward. Our work focuses on 3 big buckets:

In-person learning, sports and extracurricular activities plays a big role in all 3 buckets. That’s why we work so hard to support our schools during this challenging time.

How my family weighs risk and reward.

You might’ve seen my team’s work last week when we took a fresh look at school outbreaks. At the time, we reported that only 8% of recent outbreaks happened in the classroom. Nearly 90% were linked to sports.

When you work closely with data, you learn to be open to new information. As we learn more, our understanding grows and changes. My team works hard to bring you the most current reliable data and we know it will change over time.

This week, you will see a shift in school outbreaks. The number of sports outbreaks grew a little, while the number of classroom outbreaks grew more. That shifted the ratio and what we know right now:

  • Classroom: 44%.
  • Sports: 30%.
  • Other: 25%.
  • Transportation: 1%.

With all that in mind, I’m happy my kids are back in sports. A big reason is my family has many layers of protection:

  • We’re all up to date on vaccine.
  • We mask up when required.
  • Nobody in my house is immunocompromised or living with an underlying condition.

I also believe the Washington State Department of Health issued great guidance to protect student-athletes. My kids and their teammates wear masks during practice and test for COVID-19 on the day of a game or meet. Coaches, trainers, and staff also wear masks for all practices and competitions.

Schools remain one of our top priorities.

Our students’ mental health and well-being have suffered during the pandemic. We remain committed to keeping schools open and safe.

Some of the ways we protect students and staff safety include:

  • Vaccines.
  • Masking.
  • Case and contact investigation.
  • Improved ventilation.
  • Handwashing and respiratory etiquette.
  • Testing.

Vaccines and boosters protect kids from the worst COVID-19 outcomes. Everyone 5 and older is eligible for the vaccine. And everyone 12 and older should get their COVID-19 vaccine booster dose. Find your dose today at tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture.

And you can do even more to help stop the spread.

• Fight the flu, too, and get your flu shot.
• Wear your mask.
• If you’re sick, stay home.
• Wash your hands frequently
• Get tested if you experience symptoms or were exposed.
• Get vaccinated.

You can always help build trust with reliable information. Subscribe to the Your Reliable Source blog for our latest news and info.

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UPDATED: 01/28/2022