As part of plans to return students to school buildings during the third marking period, WJCC Schools will allow high school athletes to participate in varsity athletics. The Fall sports season, including football, cross country, field hockey, golf, volleyball, and cheer, will begin tryouts and practices February 8 – February 15. The first game of the season will be a football game on February 26. This is the week after some high school students return to school for in-person, hybrid learning.
Students will not participate in junior varsity or middle school fall sports seasons; however, they may have the opportunity to take part in spring sports. The phased return to play mirrors the division’s return to in-person learning plans, which bring students on-site in smaller groups.
“We are eager for all student-athletes to have the chance to play,” said Dr. Olwen Herron, WJCC Schools superintendent. “But we know that having a small group of students taking part in this season allows us to have a laser-like focus on health and safety measures that need to be in place.”
Participation in varsity sports is voluntary. All parents/guardians of student-athletes must sign a COVID-19 waiver which acknowledges that families will complete daily home health screenings. Parents and guardians must also confirm their understanding that a team’s practice or play will be suspended if a player or coach tests positive or is diagnosed as “presumed positive” for COVID-19 by a doctor.
Unlike the Winter season, the majority of Fall sports competitions take place outdoors which allows for greater social distancing and fresh air.
“Volleyball and competitive cheer – the only indoor sports – do not require physical contact with the other team, and participants in these activities will wear masks while they compete,” said Kenneth Edwards, athletic director for Jamestown High School. “By waiting to play until the Fall season, we have had more time to strengthen and implement health and safety mitigation strategies.”
Any disregard for the school division’s mitigation procedures may result in the removal of a player or the termination of the season for an individual team or school athletic program.
“Players and coaches will stay 6 feet apart when not actively playing, masks will be worn on the sidelines, equipment will be disinfected often, and hand-sanitizer will be available,” explained Kyle Neve, athletic director for Lafayette High School.”
To limit travel and time spent on buses for away games, the Bay Rivers District is scheduling games based on geography. WJCC Schools teams will compete against one another and schools in the closest neighboring districts.
“We are going to watch our local COVID-19 transmission rates and how well we are using face coverings, cleaning equipment, and keeping players six feet apart,” Dan Mullen, athletic director for Warhill High School added. “If we can’t keep our student-athletes and coaches safe, we will pause the season immediately.”