Owasso Football

Head coach Bill Blankenship hopes to be able to see his players from the Owasso football program in person for the first time in months beginning June 8. SHAWN HEIN/Owasso Reporter

Owasso athletics is moving toward opening its doors to student-athletes again. Athletic Director Zach Duffield said the details are still being worked out.

“We’re moving in a positive direction,” Duffield said.

Owasso Public Schools is set to have coaches on campus for professional development starting on Monday, June 1, as they begin to implement guidelines for opening summer activities amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Also, Monday, June 8, is the tentative targeted date for the return of student-athletes for summer workouts. Numerous other Tulsa-area high schools, including Collinsville, announced last week that the 8th will be the first day for student-athletes to return as well.

On May 22, the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association board of directors rejected a three-phase plan developed by its staff. That left many administrators around the state scrambling to formulate a suitable plan for their particular school district.

In order to make June 8 a reality, Duffield said he hopes to get the go-ahead from OPS administration and staff sometime within the week.

“The week of June 1 will be used for professional development, training, preparation among the adults, so there won’t be any students on campus June 1 … with the hope of shortly thereafter having kiddos back on campus in small groups,” said OPS Superintendent Amy Fichtner.

Duffield could not share many details of the phasing-in plan for summer activities, but did acknowledge that Owasso’s implements elements of one similar to what Broken Arrow announced last week, which is what the OSSAA had proposed to the board of directors.

Broken Arrow’s plan includes two phases. Some of its Phase 1 guidelines require coaches and student-athletes to use masks while entering athletic facilities. Shared hydration bottles as well as towels, gloves or other personal equipment would be prohibited. Locker room facilities would be off limits to student-athletes and temperatures of students and coaches would be checked and logged daily. Camps, clinics or summer league competitions would not be permitted in Phase 1.

Permitting any setbacks, Phase 2 would begin at an unspecified date. Social distancing and strict sanitation guidelines would continue to be reinforced. Under Phase 2, coaches may have camps and clinics, but participation would be limited to those within the program. Interschool competitions such as summer leagues, camps or clinics would not be allowed.

“Our goal is make sure we have everything ready to roll, and our goal is also … we don’t want to go backwards, so we want to go at an appropriate pace that keeps us from having to step back … we just want that forward momentum,” Fichtner said.

West leads discussion among area administrators

Collinsville Superintendent Lance West, chairperson of the Tulsa County Area Superintendents Association, hosted a Zoom meeting of approximately 25-30 school districts on May 26 on the topic of reopening high school sports and activities.

The committee agreed to follow an OSSAA proposed plan with a start date of June 8.

Like Owasso, the districts will use the week beginning on June 1 to prepare athletic directors and coaches for implementing safety guidelines for COVID-19.

Administration from most of the Frontier Valley Conference and Metro Lakes Conference schools attended the virtual meeting.

Phase 1 of the OSSAA plan allowed for a resumption of weightlifting, conditioning drills and face-to-face contact between coaches and players next Monday, under close medical supervision and disinfecting requirements.

The Tulsa-area administrators feared that starting on June 1 would have left scarce time for instructing coaches and athletic directors and amassing the disinfectant, hand sanitizer and medical supplies required for implementation.

“Schools are struggling to get disinfectant,” West said. “Most (districts) have enough to get started, but they’re going to need more to continue.”

Every participating Tulsa-area district is under its own volition as to how much or how little of the OSSAA plan it will use, West said.

Owasso Reporter News Editor Art Haddaway and Tulsa World Sports Writer Mike Brown contributed to this story.