Most spring sports were canceled before they even started last year during the start of the pandemic.By Nicole Ford

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – High school athletes and coaches have battled the ups and downs of the pandemic. From no sports to strict safety protocols, little by little the restrictions have lifted.

“We are very happy and fortunate to be starting spring sports,” said NA Athletic Director Bob Bozzuto.

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High school spring sports were canceled before the 2020 season even started as coronavirus spread last March.

“I do remember we had one boys’ lacrosse scrimmage on this field before everything shut down and we got a boys volleyball scrimmage in. Then there was nothing else, leaving the athletes and coaches not knowing where we were going to go from there,” said North Hills Athletic Director Pat Weber.

Starting Monday, that all changes, but it doesn’t come without a lot of adjustments.

“We screen our athletes every day so we know if they are healthy, and if they are not, they shouldn’t be there,” Weber said.

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The PIAA issued its guidance this week. The big change is that masks are not required outdoors if there is proper social distancing.

“As far as baseball players are concerned there’s no reason for an outfielder to have a mask on. But if there are people on bases, those basemen will wear a mask and the runner. Same with home plate,” Bozzuto said.

Other changes include spacing on the sidelines, especially with large teams like track and field. Plus, more fans will be in the stands with the latest changes to the governor’s gathering limits.

“It’s great, we are adding more people with the governor adding 15 percent for the spectators in our gym. It was great the other night seeing 300-plus people in there cheering,” Bozzuto said.

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Bozzuto and Weber said this is a light at the end of the tunnel as more people are vaccinated.