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GAME ON: School board allows fall sports to return

Let the games begin.

That was the unanimous decision of the Jessamine County Board of Education Monday night.

Two days before classes were to begin online, the board approved the recommendation of Superintendent Matt Moore to allow most team sports to resume the weekend of Sept. 7 and for high school football to return Sept. 11.

The decision came the same day Gov. Andy Beshear announced at his daily press conference that he would go along with the Aug. 20 decision by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association to allow practices to begin that same day and games to begin Sept. 7 and for football, Sept. 11.

“The board unanimously supported the superintendent’s recommendation to proceed with fall sports,” Jessamine County Board of Education Chairman Steven Scrivner said in a statement. We know it will be incredibly challenging, and probably not without some bumps in the road, but we’re hopeful that with coronavirus numbers in our county going in the right direction and continued diligence by students and parents reduce the virus’ transmission, we can have a safe and successful start to the sports calendar.

“It’s important for everyone to understand that simply starting the sports calendar does not guarantee completing it. The superintendent, in consultation with local and state health officials, will be closely monitoring events to make sure athletics don’t make an already-fragile situation worse and jeopardize our ability to get students back in the building.”

On his professional Facebook page, where Scrivner posted a similar statement, more than 40 people gave the statement a thumbs up or commented, thanking him and the board or expressing their approval. There were none as of 1:40 p.m. Tuesday that signified disagreement.

Moore said starting football Sept. 11 will allow the players to shift from phase one practice, which is only conditioning and individual skills, to a more traditional practices and scrimmages involving contact with players.

Other team sports, which can begin earlier, are boys and girls soccer, cross country, volleyball, cheerleading and dance.

Golf and fishing, as individual sports, were already allowed.

Moore said Tuesday the KHSAA had not yet issued guidelines on how many fans in the stands will be allowed, but the school district will work with the Jessamine County Health Department to develop those kinds of regulations to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“What we’re talking about there is the management of the crowds,” he said. “We don’t want to open that up where everybody is coming without the expectations for social distancing and protocol.”

Moore said he expects visitors will have to wear masks when they are moving around campus, but probably not when they are seated. The same will be expected of student athletes except when they are on the field or in practice.

“We’re going to have to adjust the way we do our concessions” and other rules, Moore said, such as possibly not allowing fans to stand along the sidelines.

The goal, Mooret said, is to make sure everyone who comes to watch the games stay safe.

“Yesterday, we started a lot of the tryouts across the district for a lot of the sports,” he said.

In his Aug. 24 comments, Beshear said the decision to allow the return of fall sports at Kentucky schools comes with a heavy burden of responsibility.

The governor said he would not overturn KHSAA’s decision, but “it’s not because I think it’s a good decision or a wise decision,” he said. It is because he thinks others need to be involved in making those decisions.

Beshear mentioned recent reports about athletes facing cardiac problems after COVID-19 infections.

Dr. Curt Daniels, a cardiologist professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University, reported a study that found 10 to 13 percent of athletes with the novel coronavirus had developed mild cases of myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle.

“I hope that in Kentucky we can be more successful with youth sports than other places, but the outlook is not good,” Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner for the Kentucky Department for Public Health, said Monday. “There’s a lot we don’t know about this disease. We don’t know some of the more silent but really serious harms that this disease causes.”

About Randy Patrick

Randy Patrick is a reporter for Bluegrass Newsmedia, which includes The Jessamine Journal. He may be reached at 859-759-0015 or by email at randy.patrick@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.

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