The Bainbridge Island School District hopes that Bainbridge High School athletics remain in the Olympic League for the 2021-22 school year.
It plans to ask the school board to allow that at a special meeting Tuesday night. From January to June, BHS competed in a modified Olympic League due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Gov. Jay Inslee’s Roadmap to Recovery places Kitsap County schools in the Northwest Region while schools in the Metro League were placed in the Puget Sound Region. Phasing restrictions and limited capacity for transportation would have made it difficult for BHS to compete in the Metro League during these six months of WIAA athletic programming.
For similar reasons, BISD is recommending that BHS remain temporarily in the Olympic League. This fall, the school board will revisit future league affiliations. BISD reasons for wanting to continue in the Olympic League include:
● Although COVID rates are improving, the pandemic isn’t over. Remaining in the Olympic League keeps BHS in the same Health District (Kitsap County) with many Olympic League teams, and may increase the chances of maintaining three full seasons of athletics for the upcoming school year. The Olympic League includes Bremerton, Kingston, North Kitsap, North Mason, Olympic, Port Angeles and Sequim.
● BISD’s transportation concerns. Competing in the Metro League requires longer trips and BISD bus drivers must remain in Seattle during competitions. BISD transportation department operates with limited staff and competing in the Olympic League provides the BISD transportation department with more flexibility (without relying on the ferry) and allows drivers to complete additional routes. In addition, if COVID rates spike and BISD is forced to pivot back to a hybrid-learning model, it would be nearly impossible for BISD bus drivers to travel to the Seattle area for weekday competitions because the hybrid schedule ends later in the afternoon than the regular schedule.
● Metro League schools are not able to commit to traveling to Bainbridge Island. Just as BISD is navigating transportation concerns (outlined above), the Metro League can not commit to participating in athletic competitions on Bainbridge Island during the 2021-2022 school year due to transportation issues. Metro League leadership has shared with BISD that the lack of available bus drivers in Seattle Public Schools and the high cost of contracting with charter bus companies will severely impact their ability to send Seattle student-athletes to Bainbridge High School to compete. That would mean that BHS teams would have to travel to Seattle for all competitions – both home and away.