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Roanoke City Schools postpones middle school sports until February

Published: Dec. 8, 2020 at 8:56 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 8, 2020 at 8:59 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - At Roanoke middle schools, the sound of the basketball court will be a whole lot quieter this year. Tuesday night, the city school board announced all middle school winter sports will be pushed back until at least February.

Officials cited a number of factors in their decision, including the Governor’s latest limits on gatherings, and the surge in local COVID-19 cases.

“With the pandemic at an all time high, and the fact that our health district is investigating an outbreak in youth sports now, we wanted to make sure we were meeting health mitigation strategies for the safety of our students,” said Chief of Operations Chris Perkins.

Roanoke City’s original plan called for middle and high school sports to follow the same schedule, which was laid out by the Virginia High School League over the summer. Under the plan, winter sports would run from December to February, followed by fall sports, and then spring sports.

According to Perkins, the district will now try to run middle school fall and winter sports at the same time. “We’re going to have indoor activities at the same time we have outdoor activities, and hopefully we can pull those off,” he said.

The decision comes as many districts around the commonwealth are struggling with whether to bring back any school sports. Some districts, including Alexandria and James City County, have chosen to cancel winter athletics at all levels.

In Roanoke City, high school sports will continue as scheduled, at least for now.

“Keep in mind our high school athletes have opportunities unlike our middle school athletes for scholarships,” said Perkins, “so we want to make sure that we go week-to-week, and we make the decision in the best interest of their future as well.”

The district will make those week-to-week decisions based on the Return to Play guidelines released earlier this fall. Those guidelines govern play not only in Roanoke city, but in the surrounding districts Roanoke City athletes compete against. According to the guidelines, if transmission in the Roanoke City area remains high, it may be difficult for any sports to be played.

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