More COVID-19 Testing Requirements for Student Athletes

Student athletes want to get back to their sport. What are the requirements?

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As soon as students head back to school after winter break, they head right back to their sport. But what if they had Covid? San Diego Unified School District is requiring more testing for all athletes, whether vaccinated or not.

If a sport is in season, athletes get tested twice a week. For those out of season sports, like track or football, they must be tested once a week, vaccinated or not vaccinated.

“Twice a week is better than once a week and better than not at all,” said Doctor Howard Taras, a pediatrician at UCSD and a consultant to many school districts during the pandemic. “It’s imperfect, what we’re trying to do here is reduce the chances, so if that’s as good as we can do, so be it.”

Taras also emphasized the test needs to be an antigen test not a PCR test. “The PCR  test can remain positive for long after you’re no longer infectious. So, getting a PCR test to allow you back into school, allow you back into a sport, it doesn’t really make sense. You’re better off getting a negative antigen because that is a better reflection of how infectious you are to others," Taras told NBC 7.

The Superintendent for San Dieguito Union School District, Doctor Cheryl Ward, said San Dieguito follows the California Department of Public Health guidelines. Whether vaccinated or not, if you have Covid, and you get a negative antigen test in five days you can resume sports; or you can wait 10 days and come back without a test if your symptoms are improving.

Like San Diego Unified, an antigen test is required, not a PCR test. Unlike San Diego Unified, Ward says San Dieguito does not have an abundance of testing. She said families can make an appointment with the district’s partner, Phamatec, and be tested for $75, or order online and get tests for $23.

“The 23 dollars is a little easier and we know the tests are coming from the federal government very shortly so that will help everyone, or you can wait the 10 days, and make sure we’re recovering and then return,” said Ward who added that the 10 day period is what it seems likely to take before a person gets a negative antigen test.

The federal government is making free home tests kits available for order through a government website this week.

In the meantime, Ward tells student athletes who want to come back after Covid to hang in there, keep practicing and to isolate. “Why? We want to protect the community. We want to make sure more kids aren’t in the same boat.”  

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