WEEKLY Q&A INTERVIEW WITH NMAA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SALLY MARQUEZ JULY 6, 2020
Each week, New Mexico Activities Association Executive Director Sally Marquez answers questions regarding the guidelines in place for summer workouts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is this week’s interview.
Some school districts like Las Cruces, Gadsden, Deming and Los Lunas postponed their summer workouts until next week, July 13. Do all school districts have to wait?
No, that is a school district decision. It came out from the Texas Association, the UIL, that they were going to suspended workouts right around the July 4th holiday just in case kids were at parties and family outings and not to bring the virus into their practices. So, they suspended workouts for a couple weeks. When that came out, some school districts thought it was a great idea so they decided to suspended their summer workouts for a couple weeks. But that is a school district decision.
Will we see high school athletics if schools are in a hybrid model where it’s some in person learning and some remote virtual learning?
I think that’s To Be Determined. We will have a meeting today and talk to the superintendents. I also have a survey to go out to the superintendents because ultimately it’s probably their decision. We talk about transportation. If kids are at school, it’s easy to practice. If they’re not at school that day, can they get back to practice after school? I think that’s a superintendent’s decision. I will be talking to them and getting their feedback before that decision is made.
When can teams open up their POD size from a 5:1 ratio to something larger?
I think we’re waiting on the Governor. When she moves to Phase 2, if she opens up a little bit, then maybe we can go to 10:1 or 15:1 POD size. But at this time, the Phase hasn’t opened up and hopefully we don’t reverse because that’s a possibility. It will depend on when the Governor decides to go to Phase 2.
Can you clarify the use of equipment like a football within a POD?
I think that’s changed. At the beginning we had no equipment. Then we opened it up a little bit to minimal equipment use. I think the coaches are getting the hang of it and they’re very professional and understand they need to keep everything sanitized within a POD. When you talk about equipment, there can be equipment use but it has to be within that POD. With a football, they can throw the football to everyone within the POD, but it cannot go from one POD to the other. Sanitizing and doing it properly and understanding that it just needs to be in a small, small group and equipment is fine.
With the Governor’s new guidelines about out of state travel, does the 14-day quarantine apply to those who drive now instead of fly?
It does, and that has changed in the past week. Last week I sent an email to the athletic directors and coaches with the understanding we are not only in a 14-day quarantine when they fly, we are now in a 14-day quarantine when somebody drives. That is going to affect some of these kids that are going across the border for a baseball or softball tournament or going on a family vacation. Whether they drive or fly, they must have a 14-day quarantine period.
What about the kids and families that left the state before the quarantine order was issued?
That was one of the first questions that came up. I left the state under these guidelines and I’m returning under new guidelines. I did ask the Governor’s office that question and when they return, whatever guidelines that are in place, not when they leave, when they return, whatever guidelines that are in place are the guidelines they need to follow. Those folks that left the state under one guideline and are returning right now, they will have a 14-day quarantine whether they drive or fly.
What if someone leaves town, returns and has a COVID test and the results are negative, can they return to workouts?
The COVID test does not replace the 14-day quarantine. I know some parents thought, ‘let me go get a COVID test and if I’m negative I can return to practice.’ It doesn’t replace. At this point, if you leave the state, whether you drive or fly, you have a 14-day quarantine period.
How often can you change the athletes in a POD?
Our coaches are so professional and they understand the whole idea of the guideline. The guidelines are to minimize contact from one kid to another. When you constantly change PODS then you are not minimizing contact for these kids. These kids, instead of being with 5 people, could be with 10-15-20 other people if you keep changing PODS. I think it’s a good idea to keep the PODS together. What is the time frame? That’s up to the coach. I still think maybe a two week time period to make sure they stay within the same POD, just because of that 14-day period for contact tracing. So, I would say a two-week period for them to stay within their POD and then I think you could change a little bit minimally if you need to. But it would be best to keep the same PODs.
Should a coach try to keep siblings in the same POD or a coach and their own child in the same POD?
That’s a good question because we did have a situation where we had a father or mother test positive for COVID and then there were two kids within that household. When you look at contact tracing, now you’re asking who did these kids come in contact with. If they were in the same POD, there would only be three other kids. If they were in different PODs, there might be 9 other people they may have been in contact with. You want to make sure you think about those things. Yes, it is best to keep siblings in the same POD.
You’ve been meeting with coaches each week to keep the open lines of communication. What have you been telling them? Where are we at right now?
We’re staying positive. I keep saying that. You come to work some days and you’re not as positive as others. We always say it’s fluid, it’s ever changing. I think in the end, I’m going to communicate with the coaches, I’m going to communicate with the superintendents and all the athletic directors and kind of weigh in where we’re at. What are the feelings? We are trying to find out how can we make sure we have sports in the school year 2020-2021. I’ve said since the beginning of March that is my goal. My goal is to make sure we have all sports and all kids can compete in 2020-2021. What that looks like? We still don’t know. I’ve been saying mid-July, and I’m going to keep my word, mid-July is coming around the corner and we have to make some determination. Once we weigh in with all the athletic directors, superintendents, head masters and coaches, once we get all that information then I think a good, concrete decision can be made. Is it going to be ideal? No, it’s not going to be ideal. We are in a different world in this 2020-2021 school year. However, we can play again. I keep saying that. We can play again. That’s the goal, that everyone gets to compete in 2020-2021. When that decision is made, everyone will be on the same page. We will all stay positive because it is going to happen.