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'Please let us play': Eagle charter school basketball coach urges Central District Health to allow fall, winter sports to continue

Central District Health will meet Friday night to determine whether fall and winter sports can continue safely as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

BOISE, Idaho — On Friday night, Central District Health is holding a special health board meeting. Members will decide if the public health advisory issued just over two weeks ago should become a public health order.

This means the recommendations previously issued would become mandatory in all four counties overseen by CDH: Ada, Boise, Elmore, and Valley.

The current advisory strongly recommends precautionary measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, such as wearing a mask in public spaces, working from home if you are able to, and limiting non-essential travel.

The proposed order, which the board will discuss and may vote on during their Friday meeting, would prohibit gatherings of ten or more people, with exceptions for protests and religious gatherings as long as masks are worn and distance is kept.

Visits to long-term care facilities and jails would be prohibited if the order became mandatory. Bars and restaurants would also have to follow strict guidelines in order to remain open.

The biggest item on the proposed order, however, will affect Treasure Valley parents, players, and coaches. Listed in Section Six: "Organized youth and adult sports and activities in which physical distancing six feet is not possible are prohibited".

This would apply to wrestling teams, basketball teams, even drama teams from grade school to high school to colleges in the CDH jurisdiction.

Several high school and college teams have already begun their seasons, some with delays and cancellations. North Charter School in Eagle played against Compass Charter School just two days ago.

Boys basketball coach for Compass Adam Rankin wrote a letter to CDH ahead of Friday's meeting, urging board members not to pause sports' seasons.

Citing mental health and the perceived success of fall sports to slow the spread of COVID-19, he hoped they will remove that line from the proposed public health order.

You cannot keep people in a box, it's not going to happen," Rankin said. "I understand the situation, I understand the seriousness of the pandemic. It's going to be going on a long time, this is why I've had my players wear masks, this is why I'm trying to be safe."

Even if the players and coaches would be required to play in masks without an audience, Rankin would make those changes without argument.

"I've adjusted the way I've done things completely to be safe," he said. "Everybody has to learn, everybody has to take actions to be safe. The answer isn't to keep shutting things down, especially when they aren't unsafe, that's not the answer."

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