Now that the state and county have given their consent, indoor sports are close to returning at local high schools. As soon as leagues and school districts/administrators sign off, basketball, volleyball, wrestling and badminton teams can return to the gym.

Ryan Bahar

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier File Photo

Mountain View High’s Ryan Bahar drives past Los Altos High’s Antonio Benavidez in a league basketball game last season.

Mountain View High boys basketball coach Kevin Mack said he expects that to happen this week at his school and can’t wait to get the Spartans on the hardwood for what looked like a lost season only weeks ago.

“At one point, it didn’t look good,” said Mack, whose sport was considered high risk for COVID spread by the state – allowed only when a county reached the “minimal” (yellow) tier – prior to the directive issued Thursday. “We’re happy and excited that the state came to an agreement.”

The agreement came after the state settled lawsuits filed in San Diego County challenging the restrictions on high school sports. The outcome: All sports can resume in counties with 14 or fewer new cases of coronavirus per 100,000 people as long as they follow the testing protocols implemented at the college and pro levels.

Just hours after the state posted the directive, a spokesperson for Santa Clara County Public Health told the Town Crier in an email that it “is aligned with the state’s new guidelines for youth sports.”

Although Los Altos High athletic director Michelle Noeth said she was “super excited” to see indoor sports return, she acknowledged that the state’s sudden change of course comes with challenges. First and foremost: finding gym space for all of the teams, which she called “extremely difficult.”

Mountain View High athletic director Shelley Smith shared those sentiments.

“Yes, a huge concern since the decision has come so late to adequately adjust for equality for all teams,” he said.

While regular COVID-19 testing could also prove problematic, help appears to be on the way. Let Them Play CA – the youth sports advocacy group involved in the lawsuits against the state – has promised to provide free rapid testing through its partnership with the 11:11 COVID Project.

Mack said Friday he was putting together a proposal he planned to present to Smith that involves signing up for this testing program.

“It meets all the requirements,” Mack said. “There’s no contract or out-of-pocket costs, which is huge. The rep comes to you and it’s a PCR test that gives results in 15 minutes.”