ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - The Dougherty County School System (DCSS) is delaying fall sports through September because of coronavirus concerns, according to the school system.
The move applies to football, softball and cross country.
“We are eager to begin on-campus learning, as well as to give our students the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities such as GHSA-sanctioned sports; however, based on the current data for Dougherty County, moving forward with fall sports as previously planned just isn’t sensible,” Kenneth Dyer, DCSS superintendent, said. “We are optimistic that if the numbers in Dougherty County continue to improve, we’ll eventually be able to get to the point of having face-to-face instruction and restarting athletics competitions. If not, however, we’ve already started to look at options for moving our fall sports to the spring.”
Although there have been no COVID-19 cases associated with DCSS Athletics, the school system said the move comes as athletics programs across the country struggle to cope with student-athletes and coaches who are contracting the COVID-19 virus.
In Dougherty County, the spread of COVID-19 remains at unacceptably high levels, currently averaging more than 15 new cases per day, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Monroe Head Football Coach, Charles Truitt, told me they expected this to happen adding sometimes the love for the game isn’t enough.
”You know, I love the game of football, I’ve been coaching for like 30 years now. But, I don’t want to risk a kid getting sick or infecting their parents, you know I don’t want that to happen. So, if it’s deemed necessary for us to cancel the season, I’m all for that instead of someone dying because they’re out here playing football. But, we’re hoping we can get the numbers down so we can have a season and no one gets ill from it,” said Truitt.
The action taken suspends fall sports competitions through at least the month of September.
Dougherty County Schools have been operating under stricter guidelines than other GHSA schools, because Albany was a hotspot for COVID-19.
Truitt said this delay could end up being exactly what they need.
”We feel we could’ve caught up but it’s good to be able to have the chance to get your team right and really be able to put a plan together. So you know, being able to sit out until the end of September, play in October, that sort of gives us a chance to get back to playing football. Hopefully, hopefully, hopefully, eventually we’ll be able to put pads on and really get at it and really get into a football mindset,” said Truitt.
DCSS officials said they will assess conditions again before September ends to determine if it is feasible to move forward with an October start to the DCSS fall sports schedule.
Dyer said he is optimistic that if everyone displays a collective commitment to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19 in the Albany and Dougherty County community, “we can safely resume in-person instruction and activities.”
“I’d like to encourage everyone to mask up, exercise physical distancing and wash/sanitize their hands frequently so that we can, sooner rather than later, recommence learning the way we all believe is best, face-to-face, and offer a wide array of extracurricular activities to our students,” Dyer said.