‘It breaks my heart for these kids’: Mead families forced to miss sporting events until the district can get more COVID tests

MEAD, Wash. – For school sporting events to go on, students have to test for COVID-19 three times a week. If students can’t get tested, they can’t play.

On Tuesday, the Mead School District said it no longer has any testing supplies, meaning all practices and competitions are on pause.

It’s an upsetting situation for Mead families, specifically for Tim Mason, who has three sons in the district who wrestle.

“It breaks my heart for these kids. They work so hard,” he said.

Testing supplies are being exhausted everywhere. School districts have their own allocation from the state health department, however, demand, as well as supply issues, pushed Mead to run out.

The mountain passes were closed for days this last weekend, making it difficult for eastern Washington to get testing supplies.

“It’s really upsetting to a lot of people because to say we don’t have testing kits, you, student-athletes, don’t get to do what you love to do,” Mason said.

With Mead canceling their games and practices until further notice, it’s caused a disruption to the Greater Spokane League.

Ken VanSickle, the director of the GSL, says he’s been dealing with this for weeks as COVID surges. Other teams are still playing despite Mead having to wait.

“We’re hoping that Mead gets testing kits soon. Obviously, there’s been delays with the passes being closed and supply issues. As soon as they get them and are able to test, then they can start playing again. As soon as that happens they’ll be back in the mix and the games that they miss will just make them up,” VanSickle said.

Late last year, the Washington Department of Health changed testing regulations for student-athletes. In the fall, student-athletes could either get tested twice a week or choose to be vaccinated to participate.

However, after a wrestling tournament outbreak in western Washington, DOH changed the requirements to all student-athletes in high-risk sports needing to get tested three times a week, regardless of vaccination status.

“The planning and everything that people have done to have enough for people to get enough tests, to test all their student-athletes, moving it to three days a week… When you’re looking at hundreds of athletes obviously changes that. That definitely had an impact on testing availability and how many athletes were testing,” VanSickle said.

VanSickle says they’re trying to be creative in making up games and matches. For wrestling specifically, they could be having double duels instead of just one. That means there could be four teams at one site instead of two.

As for getting students back to playing sports, the Mead School District says it hopes to get tests this week. However, DOH has not given them an arrival date nor a shipping notification. Once the district knows when it’ll have testing kits, it will reach out to families as soon as possible.

“There is a plan in place to disperse test kits to schools immediately upon receipt,” the district told 4 News Now.

In the meantime, Mason’s children are left waiting to get back onto the mat.

“Losing it last year, as we know, the kids losing their sports, and to see it happen again, it just hurts my heart for these kids,” Mason added.

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