JCPS sports in jeopardy as COVID-19 cases rise in Jefferson County

Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 6:03 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio announced school sports could be at risk of suspension as Jefferson County enters the “red zone” for COVID-19 cases.

Pollio said the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s guidelines recommend school districts suspend athletics if the local county enters the “red zone,” where the prevalence of COVID-19 is considered “critical.” Jefferson County now has 27.4 positive cases per 100,000 people, according to the Team Kentucky website. The county was previously in the “orange zone” before this weekend.

“The state document is very clear that when you are in red, suspend athletics,” Pollio said. “Some will say other districts don’t do that. I’m here for Jefferson County Public Schools.”

For Butler High School cross country coach Stephanie Barnes, the news is crushing because the team is a little more than a week away from the end of the season.

“To have the rug pulled out from under us potentially two days before our regional competition, it’s going to be worse than when it was in March,” Barnes said.

Barnes said the team has followed every precaution required, including wearing masks until the final seconds before a race, practicing in small groups and racing in what she called “waves.” Barnes said the team has been virus-free the entire season.

“I have a girl who’s top 10 in the state, and she may not get to run if they cancel us, so this is going to be hard because they’ve worked so hard,” Barnes said.

Eastern High football player Isaiah Delaquis said he isn’t surprised by the news. The junior said this season has been “hectic.”

“It’s been a lot of eyes on the media on who’s getting COVID-19, who’s not, who’s in the red area, who’s not, can we play this team, can we not," Delaquis said. "So there are a lot of things we have to look into week to week to see if we can play on Friday nights. I’m heartbroken because I love football, but we always have next season.”

However, some are in their final season, like Chris Pearce’s son, who plays basketball at Southern High. Pearce said he is a senior this year, and he could get into college through his high grades alone. However, his father said he always wanted to play basketball in college, so the possibility of not getting scouted this year is disappointing.

“The kids' safety is first; that’s the main thing,” Pearce said. “But it does hurt a lot of kids not being able to play in front of scouts, play in front of recruiters, to get to have a chance to go to college on scholarship. We’ve been preparing for (college) for a few years now, but everyone doesn’t have that opportunity.”

“It’s really, really sad that we’ve done everything that’s in our control and we are going to be punished because of what the rest of the city is doing,” Barnes said.

JCPS will vote on whether to suspend sports during a board meeting Thursday at 8 p.m.

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