NHS football

The Nogales Apaches football team, seen here during a preseason scrimmage in 2019, is currently set to begin practice on Sept. 28.

Fall athletic programs at Nogales High School will begin their practices on Sept. 21 and Sept. 28, school officials said.

According to NHS athletic coordinator Eric Sowle, the school’s golf, cross country, volleyball, cheer and dance teams will begin conditioning/practices on Monday, Sept. 21.

Football, band and color guard will start on the following Monday, Sept. 28.

“With this approach, our goal is to begin competing the week of Oct. 5th for golf, cross county and volleyball, and after fall break for football – as long as our local benchmarks continue to show progression in the right direction,” Sowle wrote in an email.

Weekly COVID-19 benchmark data released Thursday by the Arizona Department of Health Services showed Santa Cruz County meeting all three recommended standards for returning to in-person instruction for the first time. That evening, Nogales Unified School District Superintendent Fernando Parra announced that NUSD schools would plan to start hybrid in-person/distance learning on Oct. 19, and that NHS sports would return on a staggered basis later this month.

“All safety protocols and guidelines are in place and will be followed as we safely open up the athletic programs,” Parra wrote in a letter to the NUSD community.

Participating NHS students and coaches must be tested for COVID-19 prior to the start of the fall athletic programs, Parra said, adding that the testing will be available for free.

“Continuation of COVID-19 testing for all fall athletic and band programs will be provided and implemented on a weekly basis throughout the fall season,” he wrote, adding that the families of student participants will have to sign a waiver and a parental release for testing. 

Patagonia Union High School began soccer and volleyball practice earlier this month under strict social distancing guidelines, and Rio Rico High School announced a staggered return with practices starting Sept. 14, 21 and 28.

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