Delano and McFarland high school football games still have a chance to be played in 2021 after the California Department of Health released its new guidelines this week.
The guidelines state that areas with a COVID-19 rate of 14 cases per 100,000 people or lower are allowed to begin their football season. However, right now that would not include local communities and Kern County, because they do not meet these guidelines. The county currently sits at 32.8 cases per 100,000 people.
Playing sports was one of the many things local residents lost when the COVID-19 pandemic began last spring. Sports such as baseball, softball were delayed and ultimately canceled as school officials, like city, county, state and federal officials, tried to deal with the fast-spreading and potentially deadly virus. School campuses immediately closed and for the most part continue to remain closed, with Gov. Gavin Newsom hoping some will open in late spring.
Local graduations went drive-thru for the most part, and fall sports, such as football and volleyball, remain in limbo, with practices starting and stopping. Now spring sports practices are supposed to start within the next couple of weeks.
However, with higher infection rates in California, and especially in the Central Valley, dates continued to get pushed back. Despite this, there is still hope for a season being played as the rate of COVID-19 steadily declines.
In areas that meet the qualifications, their season can begin as soon as Friday, Feb. 26. For Delano and McFarland and Kern County, the goal is to meet requirements by March 8 to play a full league schedule; however, they can wait up to March 15 to fully begin their season.
Even if the 2021 season is not played, these protocols are a positive for next season. With definitive guidelines from the state, the path to a 2021-2022 football season seems almost definite.
As for now players, coaches and fans alike must hope for a significant drop in COVID-19 rates in the county in order to salvage their football season.