Rise of COVID in children prompts officials to look at youth sports

Dr. Fauci has mentioned that youth sports could be a factor in spreading covid as child cases slowly rise. A coach says sports are needed as kids grow.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — Youth sports are becoming a hot topic, even Dr. Fauci has mentioned that youth sports could be a factor in spreading covid as child cases slowly rise. A coach says sports are needed as kids grow.

“It teaches them leadership respect it’s more than just a gym,” said Richard Grace, head boys coach at Pioneer Gymnastics. “Fogging the gym, cleaning the mats, it’s more tedious work as a coach but it’s something that we wanted to do. We wanted to get the kids back in the gym.”

Grace says he doesn’t agree with the pinpoint on youth sports, especially gymnastics who are grouped in with contact sports.
Pioneer Gymnastics closed at the start of the pandemic. They reopened along with other sports in the state and now have put covid precautions in the gym.

“Miles is 8 and he does gymnastics,” said Laura Aten. “But I have an older son Gavin who is 10 and does basketball. Over the summer that was kind of put off for a while. Then once that started back up, everyone wore masks.

Everyone was safe and there weren’t any outbreaks with basketball either and so as long as everyone was wearing a mask. I felt safe.”
Athletes must wear masks but there are exceptions during high levels of activity like running and tumbling and instructors sanitize stations between each class.

“Children really need to have that outlet right now,” said Charity Helter, a mother of a Pioneer gymnast. “During COVID, you know it’s hard on everyone and you know unfortunately children are struggling as much as we are trying to navigate this time. “So to be able to have this outlet, to be able to socialize safely and also have that ability to exercise and help with even their mental health, it’s just a great thing to have.”

A local pediatrician says sports should continue but young ones should get vaccinated as soon a possible as the age levels continue to open to younger groups.

“All 16-year-olds are able to get the vaccine,” said Phil Boucher, Lincoln Pediatric Group. “I would expect within the next month or two it drops to 12 to 15 years olds as well being added to it. So as we get more vaccine available and younger and younger age groups to get the vaccine that will protect youth sports and school and the community as a whole.”

Boucher says Nebraska has done well with mask-wearing and following the COVID guidelines and as long as those rules are followed in youth sports and social areas COVID spread could be low.
Even with the pandemic, Charity’s son placed first in a regional competition. Here is his advice for those getting active again.

“It’s definitely scary at first, but once you start going then it’ll definitely get better because you’ll get more comfortable with working around people,” said John Helter. “You gotta be brave and you got to be confident. Also, be courageous and think everything’s gonna be positive, everything’s gonna be good.”

Categories: Nebraska News, News