Last week, the Westmoreland County School Board voted to not participate in winter sports. Naturally, this was over concerns about the Coronavirus, particularly in regards to being consistent with the imposed distancing standards put in place all over the Commonwealth. Superintendent Dr. Michael Perry gave his concerns on the subject at the meeting. Winter sports, in this case, are things like swimming, basketball, diving, wrestling, indoor track, and so on.
“Sports have been the subject of a lot of discussion over the last few weeks,” Dr. Perry commented during the meeting, reading quotes from other superintendents around the region, “If distance is critical in the classroom, then it is still important on the basketball court.
“The folly of insuring kids are socially distanced on buses, to travel to an event and wrestle people from another community is mind-boggling,”
“In short,” Dr. Perry concluded, “many of the area’s superintendents feel that if we cannot bring kids to school, then they don’t see the rationale for why we can bring kids back to sports.”
The recommendation to sit out the winter sports also came from the WCPS Athletic Director, albeit reluctantly.
“We all love sports, we want sports,” Dr. Perry continued, “but how can you go all day long, staying six feet from someone, but then have to grapple and slide against someone for five minutes, take a break, and then do it again?
“Basketball, meanwhile, if you play it right, is a contact sport, which makes the risk of contraction higher for student athletes.”
Another problem is that several referees, being a bit older, are essentially saying they won’t take the risk. Another major concern is a spike in cases that may result in Governor Northam putting the Commonwealth back into phase 1. Another problem is a lack of conditioning training for the students, which can result in more injuries during an event.
It was only the winter sports that got axed by the School Board. Before the decision was made however, the subject of vaccines came up, courtesy of Board Vice Chairman, Dr. Wallace.
“If a vaccine is approved and available, I have no problem with student athletes that have taken it participating, but the conditioning would still have to be done,” he stated, “I think a vaccination as a requirement for participation should be done.”