19 SC schools reported COVID-19 cases among athletes. What’s the plan for testing?
Lou Bezjak, The State
The South Carolina High League won’t require athletes to be tested for the coronavirus in order to take the field in for the upcoming sports year.
SCHSL commissioner Jerome Singleton said it will be up to each school if they want to test their athletes this season. Singleton said he is aware of a few districts that intend to regularly test their athletes for COVID-19. He did not specify which districts plan to make testing mandatory.
South Carolina has 81 public school districts and the S.C. High School League’s 219 members. The Charleston County school district offered free testing for its athletes last month before it began summer workouts.
“The league doesn’t have any position on it at this time. We understand the challenges for that,” Singleton told reporters Wednesday. “Availability is one of the challenges and cost being another challenge. Tests are only valid for the time it was taken. You can be negative one time and positive another.
“We hope schools take a lead on those things and make sure kids that represent them have been vetted, for lack of a better term, temperature-checked and asked a battery of questions.”
The league sent out a survey to superintendents and athletic directors earlier this month. Singleton said 19 athletic directors indicated they had student-athletes who tested positive for COVID-19.
The SCHSL let schools around the state begin summer workouts on June 8. Daily temperature checks are required each day for athletes. The league also requires athletes to wear masks (when not participating in conditioning) and to practice social distancing.
The workouts are still in Phase 1, which includes conditioning and weightlifting in groups of 10 (including a coach). Singleton said Phase 1.5, which includes sharing a ball in groups, is probably a couple weeks away.
Many districts have stopped or delayed the start of those activities because of the increase in new COVID-19 cases. Gray Collegiate and Kershaw County schools are the only Midlands public schools that did not halt workouts. Lexington 1 stopped theirs but resumed Wednesday.
South Carolina health officials announced Wednesday that 1,850 more people have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the state since March up to 62,071.
The SCHSL on Wednesday rolled out its plan for high school sports in the fall. The SCHSL’s Executive Committee approved a proposal in a 14-2 vote Wednesday to move the start of fall sports competition until September.
The proposal is for teams in all sports to play region games first, with the flexibility to add non-region contests later in the season if desired (and if possible).
Wednesday’s decision does not affect the state’s private schools, which are governed by the S.C. Independent Schools Association. Those SCISA schools still plan to start their preseason practices July 30 with games starting in August, and the flexibility to modify if needed.