School officials facing questions about the season
r. Jeanette Cowherd, superintendent of the Park Hill School District said fall athletics are “the big hot mess right now” over concerns of spreading COVID-19.
As reported in The Landmark last week, during the summer 16 high school students at Park Hill tested positive for COVID-19. All of the cases appeared as soon as the district’s activities, athletic practices and training resumed in early June. Most of the cases were individual cases and were not found to be connected.
District officials have been working with the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) and the suburban conference to best protect students as the number of positive COVID-19 cases rise in the area.
Since many high schools sports do not readily allow for physical distancing, district officials are seeking clarity and guidance on how to safely offer sports and activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to the fall season, the MSHSAA Board of Directors released new information as schools make decisions about fall sports and activities.
The MSHSAA board approved a plan for districts to offer a possible alternative schedule if schools have sports that cannot continue in the fall season.
Cowherd said specifically contact sports like football and soccer could be moved to the spring. If school officials postpone sports to the fall, then fall sports would compete between March 12 and May 1, while spring sports would compete between May 14 and July 10.
By postponing the fall season students, would still have an opportunity to engage in a full season of sports.
“Schools may use the alternate fall sports seasons for any sport if the sport meets certain thresholds including, but not limited to, length of traditional season participation and access to traditional postseason. Schools choosing to use the alternate fall season for any sport will automatically be included in the alternate spring season,” said Dr. Kerwin Urhahn, executive director of the MSHSAA.
In Wyandotte County, KCK schools have already suspended most fall sports. In other districts, the decision remains in limbo.
Cowherd said Park Hill announce its intent to either offer fall sports or postpone the traditional season before Sept. 11.
“This is going to be a real hot issue,” said Cowherd. “We can make a decision either way and we’re not going to make people happy.”
“There is a lot of emotion around this as you might imagine,” added Cowherd. “Last spring, students lost their schedules, they lost their sports and they lost their opportunities.”
District officials said they have not decided, but they hope their decision will be on the right side of history.
The possible alternative plan does not impact the winter season. “In the plan, the winter season would remain intact with the first possible practice being Monday, November 2nd. The winter season concludes on March 20th. Schools would be allowed to join the winter season when their local guidelines allow,” Urhahn says.
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