DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — During a Durham Public Schools Board of Education meeting Thursday, members approved an athletic reopening plan that would allow certain sports to continue on Oct. 26.
The plan was approved by a 5-2 vote. Under it, boys and girls cross country teams and girls volleyball teams in Durham County will be able to start back up on Oct. 26.
The first day of practice for both sports would be on Nov. 4 while the first contest would take place on Nov. 16 for participants.
Several board members expressed concerns about safety and liability, but a majority believe the benefits outweigh the risks.
“I understand we are ultimately responsible for the safety of the students. This is a situation where our students right now are 100 percent virtual, they have no connection whatsoever with any of their peers,” DPS Board Member Frederick Ravin III said in Thursday’s virtual meeting. “We have students that are likely relying on this to get into college.”
It’s an outcome high school athletes like Elena Brosnan were hoping for. Brosnan is on the cross country team at Jordan High School.
“There’s nothing like being out of a sport to make you realize that you really love it,” she said. “I want to get back to a sense of normalcy I think. Having practice again would do that.”
Jeneane Jones-Morris is a mother to two student-athletes in Durham public schools. She tells CBS 17 she believes it’s too soon to return to sports.
“I think it’s not safe yet,” Jones-Morris said of bringing high school sports back at this time. “I think academics should come first and if they aren’t able to return to the classroom, then they shouldn’t return to athletics.”
When asked if she’ll allow her daughter to play volleyball, Jones-Morris says she’s not sure.
“That’s a hard question, that’s gonna be a little tug of war in my house,” she said. “But I will make the best decision and communicate with her coaches to see what they’ve laid out and what plans they have.”
Under the re-opening plan, custodians will increase cleaning, players will get daily health screenings, locker rooms will remain closed, and no spectators will be allowed at games.
If a player tests positive for COVID-19, they are required to inform the athletic director. According to the plan, the athletic director would notify the principal and county health department, which would then notify the NCDHHS to begin contract tracing.
To return to practice, the safety protocol requires players to wait at least 10 days since first experiencing symptoms, be fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medicine, have no lingering symptoms, and provide a clearance note from their doctor.
The future of other high school sports depends on how cross country and volleyball go. However, because swim facilities have been difficult to find, the district said there are no plans to resume swimming and diving. The board will meet again in November.
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