By Laura Hayes, Contributing Writer
HUDSON — Hudson High School’s spring sports seasons officially kicked off April 26. As of the April 27 School Committee meeting, 195 student-athletes were registered to play.
“I drove past, and I saw girls’ lacrosse and baseball out. It was so nice to see kids out playing,” School Committee Member Nina Ryan said in an April 27 meeting.
Athletic Director Jessica Winders echoed the sentiment.
“It definitely feels like campus again. So that has been great to see the past several days, and the good weather helps for sure,” she said.
According to Winders, while the COVID-19 protocols haven’t substantially changed, there will be less emphasis on pod play and, specifically, geographic pod play.
“We’ve opened it up a little bit, and really looking at trying to give spring athletes a more normal experience as a student-athlete,” Winders told the School Committee.
This spring, Hudson will offer baseball, softball, lacrosse, tennis, outdoor track and unified track. Additionally, Winders said the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association and Hudson’s individual sports league will offer post-season play for all teams, which schools have to opt into.
“Spring sports are naturally socially distanced, and they’re all outside,” Winders added.
Numerous guidelines are still in place. Hudson High School athletes and coaches will still be required to wear masks at all times. Teams will be required to travel with a “COVID kit” that includes hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, a spray disinfectant, gloves and extra masks. And the high school will still be using separate buses for teams to keep the number of students in an enclosed space down.
One change Winders noted, though, is that the school will no longer be limiting competition to one program competing on a day.
Similar to sports earlier in this year, Hudson plans to have protocols in place for spectators at the games, such as wearing a lanyard or filling out online check-in and attestation forms.
“However, if you can visualize a softball field or a baseball field, it’s going to be difficult to eliminate the community members or additional members that perhaps didn’t check in or sign up or do the attestation forms from coming and watching from outside the parameters of the field,” Winders said.
Winders is still waiting on guidance, specifically from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, which governs interscholastic sports, and this may lead to some changes.
With some student-athletes eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, School Committee member Adam Tracy asked if Winders anticipated new provisions about vaccinated athletes who may have been exposed to the virus.
Winders said they would follow local and state guidelines, adding that EEA hadn’t issued its guidelines. Currently, anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19 cannot participate in practices or games until they quarantine and receive written clearance.
“I appreciate the support,” she told the School Committee April 27. “This has been a tough year. Myself, my coaches — we couldn’t have done it without the support of the district. Thank you for that.”