LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – Jefferson County Public Schools will suspend regular season athletics due to a rise in coronavirus cases. The decision was announced in a letter from JCPS superintendent Marty Pollio Friday morning following a data review on Thursday evening.
The letter included the following guidelines:
- Allow contests that fall under KHSAA postseason jurisdiction to proceed as scheduled.
- Play scheduled games for tonight and this weekend.
- Follow KHSAA Healthy at Sports guidance which allows practice, but no games or game-like simulations for teams not already in postseason play.
- Reschedule regular season contests planned for next week, when possible.
- Review the data again on Thursday evening and make another determination about athletics next Friday morning.
Pollio talked to reporters Friday morning, explaining the decision.
“We’ve got to go by the guidance," Pollio said. "KDE and KHSAA was clear that this is going to be, at times, a week-to-week decision. And I think when we go back to school that’s a possibility. So if we get down lower cases and we go back to school, that’s what that data is for, clear description is to say on Thursday you’ve got to decide if it’s safe to go back next week.”
According to the KHSAA sports season reference calendar, football, cheer and dance are currently in the regular season. Volleyball, soccer, cross country and field hockey are in postseason play. JCPS said the decision will also impact basketball, which is scheduled to hold first practices on Monday.
In the letter to JCPS families Pollio wrote, “This has been a difficult decision that our JCPS administrators have spent hours discussing. We know sports bring valued skills to a student’s life, both on and off the field. JCPS has an obligation to follow the guidance and direction from state leaders and health officials. It is our hope that we can resume full practices and contests very soon. Let’s work together and look out for one another as we move towards our common goal of ensuring the safest experience possible for all students.”
The announcement comes as a blow to sports like football as the postseason approaches. that said, Pollio said it’s unfair to suspend the season for sports that are already in the playoffs.
“None of these decisions are easy, but also we have to be very flexible for our kids," Pollio said. "So it has not been easy at all, there’s no question about it, but that’s the guidance we’ve been given.”
The news was disappointing for some parents and coaches around the county.
“It’s disappointing because we told the kids that they would have a season if they followed protocol,” Louisville Male head coach Chris Wolfe said, “and I think a vast majority of teams have done that.”
Some Male parents agreed, and told WAVE 3 News they were concerned about the uncertainty of the remainder of the season.
“Whether that be scholarship or college on the next level, or just being able to maintain a solid household environment to have something else to do, those are the individuals I really worry about,” father Monty Bross said.
“Life’s full of audibles," Brian Schutte said.
Schutte’s son, Nick, plays quarterback for Male and Schutte said he’s talked to his son about how to maintain his focus and drive during the off days.
“So the advice I try to give him as a player, as a young man, is you can’t control the situation, all you can control is how you react to the situation,” Schutte said.
Wolfe said their program has not had any positive cases of COVID-19 and it’s not fair to punish athletes who are following every guideline put in front of them.
“They have an investment in being safe,” Wolfe said, “because they don’t want to lose their sport what young people, or people in general will do when they’re motivated and incentivized to act in a certain way.”
Wolfe alluded to a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin that seems to show that athletes actually have a lower case rate of COVID-19 than non-athletes. Now a week out what to was supposed to be one of the oldest rivalry games in the country, Wolfe said there’s no certainty the game will be played. Male vs. Manual is a game that dates back to 1893, nearly more than a quarter century before the 1919 pandemic.
“It’s unfortunate,” Wolfe said. “It’s a big deal with a lot of tradition, and the seniors look forward to this game their senior year.”
Pollio said the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s guidelines recommend school districts suspend athletics if the local county enters the “red zone.”
Jefferson County is listed in the “red zone.”
As of Thursday evening, the county had a 30.9 incidence rate, according to the Team Kentucky website.
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