Coronavirus Surge Forces Schools to Suspend Sports for Second Time
Schools in at least 11 states have suspended high school sports activities this month after players or coaches tested positive for coronavirus amid a resurgence of cases across the United States.
Games, practices or training and conditioning sessions have been suspended in parts of Alabama, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, and Texas just weeks after schools reopened athletic facilities for students and coaches.
Governors in five of those states—California, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana and Texas—have suspended or delayed their reopening plans as they face increasing coronavirus case counts.
Thus far, high school athletic associations in those states have not paused plans for resuming sports, but one of the nation's largest school districts has put sports on hold for at least the next two weeks.
In Houston, the largest school system in Texas and one of the 10 largest in the country, all schools have halted training sessions until at least July 13. Districts all across Harris County, where Houston is located, are suspending activities because of a surge in coronavirus cases in the region, the Houston Chronicle reports.
In Iowa, where high school baseball and softball were the first high school sports to begin play in the United States since the coronavirus pandemic shut down activity in March, at least six teams have suspended their seasons, the Quad City Times reports.
Not all coronavirus scares have led schools to shut down games and workouts.
In Georgia, voluntary summer sports workouts are still ongoing even in Gwinnett County, the largest district in the state, where four schools reported cases of students or coaches contracting COVID-19, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
All the cases highlight the risks tied to resuming high school sports amid increasing pressure to find ways to return to play.
In states such as Texas and Georgia, many of the positive coronavirus cases have been tied to football workouts. As school athletic facilities reopened in those states, students and coaches were expected to adhere to mandated social distancing guidelines.
In May, the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee of the National Federation of State High School Associations released guidelines that identify the potential coronavirus infection risk by sport. The panel, which includes medical doctors and certified athletic trainers, listed football in the high-risk category because the sport involves close, sustained contact among players.
The guidelines from the sports advisory committee recommended a measured approach to restarting activities with social distancing in the initial phase. When the guidelines were released, the organization faced pushback from some member states, which argued the ground rules were much too cautious.
Photo Credit: With social distancing in mind, football coach Bob Wager, left, and linebacker Morice Blackwell greet each other with elbow taps during the strength and conditioning camp at Arlington Martin High School in Arlington, Tex. -- LM Otero, Associated Press