With high school and college sports still on indefinite hold, youth sports are hoping to make a return to Kern County in the fall.
On Tuesday, the California Department of Public Health released its guidelines for allowing youth sports to return, provided leagues follow certain guidelines.
The guidelines stated that "outdoor and indoor sporting events, assemblies and other activities that require close contact or that would promote congregating are not permitted at this time."
The release added that activities would be permitted in instances where "physical distancing can be maintained" at a distance of at least 6 feet. Athletes participating in sports that can't conduct social distancing can train "only where physical distancing can be maintained."
In a news release Tuesday afternoon, the Kern County Public Health Services Department said sports programs that qualify under these guidelines would only be permitted outdoors for now, because the county is on the state's COVID-19 monitoring list.
Bakersfield Director of Recreation and Parks Dianne Hoover said the current guidelines will only allow for youth sports to return for the moment, but was hopeful adult leagues would soon be able to return as well.
"They're starting off slow," Hoover said. "It'll be challenging."
Hoover says park services will also remain limited. While citizens are allowed to compete in sports such as pickleball and singles tennis, basketball hoops have remained down all summer and will stay down for the time being.
Even with major limitations, Hoover believes she and her staff have proven well-equipped to handle the challenges they face after overseeing the reopening of public pools in recent weeks.
Since reopening, pools have hosted lap swimming and altered lessons, where instructors stay out of the pool and oversee a limited number of swimmers at a time.
In the coming days, Hoover expects to reach out to representatives of youth sports organizations such as AYSO Region 73 Soccer, Golden Empire Youth Football and Bakersfield Southwest Baseball to determine if it would be feasible to return to play in the coming weeks.
While it's unlikely that all sports will be able to return, Hoover says having a chance to host any athletic competition is cause for celebration.
“Any type of guidance that the children can get at this point is excellent," she said. "As long as they’re controlled and doing the social distancing and following the guidelines, I am happy, happy, happy. It’s been a tough summer with little to no activities. It’s been very hard.”
The decision will have no impact on the recent CIF decision to move high school sporting events from the fall to January.
"It doesn't impact us at all," Kern County School District Director of School Support Services Stan Greene said. "All our stuff is regulated by the CIF."