GRAB AND GO - Library patron Tina Johnson, left, and Joanna Perensovich, information services librarian, wear masks in the Sitka Library this afternoon. The library no longer has couches for patrons, but does have computer desks widely spaced apart for people to access for one-hour periods. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Sitka Summer Soccer Season Scrubbed

By GARLAND KENNEDY
Sentinel Staff Writer

Sitka Youth Soccer has postponed the summer season indefinitely out of concern for the local transmission of COVID-19.

The coronavirus has canceled sporting events from the Olympics to Major League Baseball.

“Even with the return to play protocols as set forth by Alaska Youth Soccer, we’re concerned about contributing to any community spread of the virus, especially amidst the rising cases in Sitka,” SYS organizer Randy Hitchcock wrote in an email to soccer parents.

In a meeting earlier this month, Hitchcock said, parents in youth soccer discussed the possibility of returning to play.

“We would have a season, and we would start it somewhere early July. We met as a group last week and talked about what the Phase 4 protocol is. But after that meeting though, there were a lot of good points brought up, and it raised more uncertainty in our minds,” he said in an interview this week.

Hitchcock highlighted the difficulty of these choices.

“Are we doing the right thing? It’s scary to be responsible for some of these decisions,” he said.

 In this 2018 photo, then-high school senior Ethan Pike passes the ball during a game against Ketchikan at Lower Moller Field. 2018 was the last year for a full soccer season at Sitka High School. Local soccer now consists of Sitka Youth Soccer, which focuses on young Sitkans not yet in high school. (Sentinel file photo by James Poulson) 

After consulting with others – from his wife and SYS co-organizer Bridget Hitchcock, to director of the Fine Arts Camp and Hames Center, Roger Schmidt – Randy Hitchcock wrote, “the three of us agreed that, unfortunately, it would probably be best to postpone our season due to the continued uncertainties surrounding the current COVID-19 pandemic.”

Support of the Hames Center is vital for SYS, as it provides insurance and infrastructure needed for youth soccer to function.

In recent years, the Hitchcocks, along with about a half-dozen other involved parents have kept Sitka Youth Soccer alive.

“We didn’t want to see the program die, so we kind of took it over,” R. Hitchcock said. The soccer program was formerly included under the Community Schools umbrella.

He added that his son Connor, 13, and his daughter Lola, 9, enjoy soccer, which keeps him and his wife involved with SYS.

Previous soccer seasons, with 60 to 70 kids of various ages signed up, would involve small scrimmages of three- or four-person teams instead of the usual soccer squad of 11.

But this year, Hitchcock said, soccer was set for a big increase in participation.

“Spring soccer was in registration when the whole COVID thing hit. And it was a big bummer because all signs were showing it was going to be a record turnout,” he said.

Anticipated registration was set to be between 80 and 90 kids.

Hitchcock noted that there will be some informal soccer this summer, but with some modifications to ensure safety.

“The goal is no contact, and to keep your distance as much as possible. It’s not a perfect thing, but you can see everyone is making a strong effort,” he said.

He added that he feels an obligation to keep local soccer fans safe.

“If we get something going and a member of our group tests positive, kid or parent, the exposure that we provided to a big group of people, we feel some sense of responsibility. On another level, we still are parents of kids who love the sport. And as that we’re still going out, not as Sitka Youth Soccer, but there is a group of us getting together a couple times a week, and we are playing.”

The status of Sitka Youth Soccer this summer remains undecided for the moment.

“All signs right now are showing we don’t think it is worth the risk ... and the numbers are rising around the country. And in Sitka, every day, we get a few more,” Hitchcock said.

The final fate of local soccer this summer is “undetermined, but most likely no summer season,” Hitchcock said. “Attention is now towards a fall season.”

This would involve soccer beginning in October.

 

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-10-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of noon Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 51

Total statewide – 1,323

Total (cumulative) deaths – 17

Active cases in Sitka – 5 (2 resident; 3 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 13 (11 resident; 2 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 80.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 

 

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Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020

NOTICE FROM THE PUBLISHERS

TO READERS AND ADVERTISERS

For the duration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency declared by federal, state and local authorities, the Sentinel is taking additional measures to reduce virus exposure to its employees and contractors as well as to the public, while continuing to publish a daily news report for Sitka.

To the extent possible, Sentinel news and sales staff will be working from home. For the protection of our carriers, home delivery of the newspaper will be stopped effective Tuesday, March 24.

The Sentinel will continue to publish on its website sitkasentinel.com. Access to the website will be free to all users. The Sentinel will also produce a print edition Monday through Friday. It will be available to all readers without charge, at locations throughout town.

Initially, these locations are those where the Sentinel's newspaper vending machines are already in place. The coin mechanisms will be disabled or the doors removed to permit easy access. The Sentinel will work with the stores where the paper is usually sold, to designate a place inside or outside the store where the free edition can be made available.  

Home delivery subscriptions are on hold, and after the end of the disaster emergency, subscriptions will be extended at no charge for the number of days that there was no home delivery.

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The Sentinel is calling upon its customers to observe the COVID-19 emergency precautions already in place, particularly in maintaining a six-foot social distance from others at newspaper distribution sites.

Following is the statement issued by the Sentinel on March 16, stating the Sentinel's emergency procedures, which remain in effect.

The Sentinel office at 112 Barracks Street is closed to the public. We encourage people to use the phone, email or the U.S. Postal Service as much as possible.There is a slot in the front door of the office for ads, news items and payment checks. Emails may be sent to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the phone number is (907) 747-3219.                                                                          

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