Orangeburg school official: ‘COVID-19 poses more challenges’ for winter sports

Photo by franchise opportunities via flickr
Photo by franchise opportunities via flickr(Photo by franchise opportunities via flickr)
Updated: Dec. 7, 2020 at 8:05 AM EST
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ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - Athletic practices and competitions have been suspended until after winter break in the Orangeburg County School District.

School leaders say combatting COVID-19 is even more challenging with winter sports. Last week, the district announced the temporary suspension of all athletic activities after four student-athletes tested positive for the virus within one week.

Director of student services, Hayward Jean, who also oversees athletics for the district, says winter sports fall within multiple major holidays that traditionally include family gatherings and, this year, at time when the community is already seeing a rise in cases. There are also difficulties surrounding the types of sports played during the winter season.

“Unlike the majority of fall sports that are outdoors, COVID-19 poses more challenges for sports that are indoors. While cheerleading is more continuous, winter sports in our county are basketball and wrestling and they involve much more potential for increased skin contact and droplets exposure other than other sports,” said Jean.

He also says school officials don’t want to contribute to growing cases by continuing with sporting events and practices.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we have had to quarantine four sports teams within one week of winter sports and we don’t want to wait for four more teams or even one more team to make a decision to consider the safety of our student athletes, coaches and the community,” said Jean.

District leaders say they will continue to monitor case numbers and COVID’s impact on the community. Right now, Orangeburg school officials hope to lift the suspension of sporting events after winter break.

So far, 551 students and staff in Orangeburg schools have had to quarantine because of coronavirus cases.

According to DHEC, the county is considered to have a high infection rate.

This week, students are also returning to all virtual learning until after winter break.

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