LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Did a phone call save the fall sports season for JCPS? Some area coaches think it certainly didn’t hurt.
After more than two hours of discussion Monday night, the Jefferson County School Board appeared to be headed toward breaking away from the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s decision to practice and play this fall. That was until a district health official gave her opinion over the phone.
The board voted 5-to-2 to approve a phased-in approach with a slight delay in September for practice and competition instead of canceling the season.
Even though JCPS is a huge district, it does not have a separate athletic board to decide sports issues as universities do. So, local control over whether to follow the KHSAA decision to move ahead with fall sports during the pandemic was being decided by board members who acknowledged they didn’t know that much about several sports.
"Admittedly, I don't know field hockey," said board member Chris Brady who said he was more familiar with soccer, "so I took some time, to look it up on YouTube."
At one point, college football, where athletes travel across state lines to play other teams, as compared to JCPS football as board member Chris Kolb brought up the Big Ten’s decision not to play during the pandemic.
"What makes us think that we can that we can do a better job or what's different about the situation we're walking into and something like the Big Ten?" Kolb asked.
The board members said they were very open to listening to other opinions with the goal being to do what's best for student health. An important opinion came with a phone call.
“We didn’t see large outbreaks of people being exposed,” Eva Stone, JCPS Health Manager, said.
Stone, a nurse, has been the lead contact for athletic directors and coaches during the pandemic. She told us and the board she is confident teams are following health guidelines. Stone said the board needed to consider holistically what's best for kids.
"The big discussion about COVID-19 right now is all around the health implications of COVID-19, the virus itself," Stone said, "and while that's important, there are so many health factors to consider especially to our young people."
Stone was talking about factors like socialization and child development. She said the district is working with the health department and kids will eventually have to go back to school, so why not monitor how health protocols are working with sports.
"When we have small groups like in this situation of kids together," Stone said, "we can figure out where we need to do more education and where that process is failing."
JCPS coaches said they are pleased with the board’s open attitude and its Monday approval and now coaches, teams, and parents must be accountable to wear their masks and social distance so they can keep playing.