MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — One year after the 2021 Kentucky All "A" Classic was delayed due to the pandemic, this year's tournament kicked off on schedule Wednesday.
"It's a lot of excitement," said Julian Tackett, commissioner of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association. "And it's just another small step toward at least a normal look, even if we'll never quite be the same normal we were before."
Two years into the pandemic, Tackett said, high school sports teams have learned to adapt.
"It's not necessarily a total disaster when a team loses a player or two to a positive test," Tackett said.
Tackett said the omicron variant has been disruptive, causing postponements of athletics events and forcing some schools to host games without fans.
"We know that there's probably going to be some areas where crowds might not be as big as they normally are even at basketball and wrestling and those events," Tackett said. "So [omicron] has been very disruptive just because of how quick it can spread."
According to guidelines on Eastern Kentucky University's website, fans attending the 2022 All "A" Classic Statewide Basketball Tournament are required to wear a mask at all times.
Recent revisions to health protocols announced by the KHSAA reflect changes to CDC guidelines. A student-athlete who tests positive for COVID-19 can emerge from isolation after five days but is still required to adhere to the six-day 'Return to Play' policy.
With the revision, "the six-day return to play protocol can begin on day 6 rather than day 11" in the case of an asymptomatic or mild-symptomed athlete.
Tackett referred to this period as a time to "ramp up" for the athlete.
"You've got five days of total isolation," Tackett said. "Then you begin a six-day period where you're testing to see, for example, do you have heart responses when you start exercising more? So you're on at least the 11th or 12th day before you have that opportunity [to return]."