Winter sports still scheduled to begin next week


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Winter sports tryouts are scheduled to begin next week.

By Tony Racy, Co-Online Editor in Chief

USD 497 Superintendent Dr. Anthony Lewis on Monday recommended moving forward with winter sports and activities during a school board meeting.

His recommendation came despite a continuous uptick in positive cases for coronavirus in the community and a recommendation from the Douglas County Health Department against allowing high-risk activities that would include many winter sports. Tryouts are scheduled to begin next week.

“As I share with you in the fall, we all know the benefits of students participating in athletics and activities including in how their involvement supports their social and emotional wellbeing,” Lewis said. “These opportunities are what often connects many of our students to their schools.”

Lewis assembled a COVID-19 advisory committee earlier in the fall to help the district make decisions about sports and activities.

“We discussed this this week at our meeting, offering winter sports and activities at a time when we are not in the green phase in Douglas county’s schools opening guidance,” Lewis said. “Certainly we know that sports and fine arts aren’t the only activities that pose a risk to exposure, but we do believe with these mitigation strategies in place, I do recommend that we continue to safely offer winter activities for our students.”

Those statements came before Douglas County edged closer to possibly moving into a more restrictive zone for reopening. The county’s test positivity rate hit 11.4 percent this week, which could prompt reopening guidance to move from a yellow to orange zone. Orange would suggest halting all school activities and moving to fully remote learning. Reopening guidance will be announced this afternoon, and a special school board meeting has been scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

If sports continue, much of the mitigation strategies rely on trusting students in following guidelines.

“They know how quickly the opportunity can be taken away if we don’t all do our part, so in some ways they are more diligent with safety than the average student,” said choir director Dr. Dwayne Dunn, who has rehearsed with students outdoors, masked and spaced six feet apart. “They are also helping to set a good example for the other choirs to follow if and when they are able to meet together going forward.”

The Eudora school district has shut down all in-person learning and activities following a cluster of cases and a 16.3 percent coronavirus test positivity rate.

There will be no sports practices or after school activities at EHS during this time of remote learning,” Eudora school district superintendent Steve Splichal announced.

Senior wrestler Zachary Razak is hoping to continue with his season.

Most of the athletes I have talked to are willing to take the safety precautions to still have a season,” Razak said. “Each sport will be handled differently, but overall I know the administration is trying its best to keep the athletes safe by taking temperatures, contact tracing, etc., and that there is always a chance for the season to get cancelled.”