School Boards Split on High School Sports

English and French Catholic Board Schools Can Field Teams While OCDSB Says No Fall Sports

By Jeff Morris

Ottawa’s largest school board will not permit its schools to have sports teams when school resumes in the fall.

The Ottawa Carleton District School Board issued a memo to its families Aug. 26, outlining the restrictions put in place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

While provincial back-to-school guidelines permit sports, the OCDSB is taking the cautious route and is not permitting sports and other activities when schools re-open Sept. 9. According to the memo, the policy will be revisited after the schools have opened.

While high school football was already doubtful for the upcoming school year, there were expectations that other sports would be played. Ashbury College, a private school, is the only school that had confirmed it would be operating a football program. They are likely to play an exhibition schedule against schools in Quebec and against other private schools.

The other fall sports in the school year include soccer, boys non-contact hockey, boys’ volleyball, girls’ basketball, girls’ field hockey and cross-country running. School sports were cancelled in March, 2020 and have not yet resumed, meaning student-athletes missed the entire 2020-21 school year for competing.

The OCDSB policy means that, locally, Longfields Davidson Heights Secondary School and John McCrae Secondary School will not have fall sports teams.

However, Barrhaven’s Catholic schools will be able to compete. The Ottawa Catholic School Board, which includes St. Mother Teresa Catholic High School and St. Joseph Catholic High School, will be able to field teams.

Pierre-Savard, which is in the French Catholic Board, also has the green light to field sports teams.

The restrictions to OCDSB schools go beyond sports and will affect various clubs and extra-curricular activities. School assemblies will be held either outdoors or online. Field trips can be held but will be limited to outdoor venues, and no busing will be permitted. The school’s meet-the-teacher and school council meetings will also be held virtually.

The board will be voting on extending its masking policy to kindergarten students Aug. 31. On August 30, the OCSB voted to have kindergarten students wear masks.

In the English Catholic school board plan, school sports will be permitted, pending public health guidelines.

All schools are not permitting non-essential visitors, which will limit spectators at school sports events.