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Lahainaluna High School sports seasons to start Sept. 24

By BY WALTER CHIHARA - | Sep 17, 2021

LAHAINA — After the Aug. 20 false start for interscholastic sports — read football — the Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE) announced last week a new schedule with Sept. 24, as the new start-up date for public school athletics.

The schedule includes an 11-week regular season with playoffs but no preseason games. The Interscholastic League of Honolulu (ILH), a private school organization, began play last month. The announcement comes amid the growing COVID-19 pandemic Delta Variant that has spiked the state’s active cases to critical levels not seen for a year or more.

The increase has once again strained the state’s medical response resources and prompted new protocols to control the spread of the virus.

The new protocols will require all HIDOE student-athletes, staff and volunteers participating in school-sanctioned athletic activities to be fully vaccinated. Vaccination files will be kept by the schools.

Students and adults may seek exemptions for religious or medical reasons with appropriate documentation.

With these exemptions, individuals will be allowed to participate in HIDOE-sanctioned athletics, but they will be required to submit to twice-weekly COVID-19 tests.

So, with these new guidelines from the HIDOE, the public schools will see a roll-out of fall high school athletics, including football, girls volleyball, boys soccer, cross country, cheerleading and air riflery.

Most of the student-athletes on these teams have been conducting conditioning activities continuously through the pandemic, but roster numbers are down some 33 percent.

Beginning last fall, for example, football players began transferring to Mainland schools for the opportunity to participate and find a pathway to the next level.

Keith Hayashi, interim HIDOE superintendent, stated, “Thank you for your continued support and cooperation. I know we are all disappointed, but we really think vaccination of all kids, no matter what sports, is important. No distinctions as we try to get all students vaccinated to create a pathway back — even in the high risk sports.”

Here on the Valley Isle, announcements from Mayor Mike Victorino have restricted indoor and outdoor gathering numbers, and set restaurant and bar protocols.

No fans will be allowed to attend indoor or outdoor sports activities.