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Alexandria High School Sports on Chopping Block as COVID-19 Numbers Rise

There will be no high school sports this year in Alexandria unless they can adhere to 10-foot distancing as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr.

As of Friday, ACPS was determining which sports will be allowed in the school system, and a decision is expected to be released in ACPS Express on Monday.

With case counts rising in Northern Virginia, Alexandria has 180.7 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people within the last 14 days, according to the Dr. Stephen Haering, director of the Alexandria Health Department. That means that residents are at a high risk of infection.

Haering told Hutchings and the Virtual Plus Learning Advisory Team on Wednesday (Nov. 11) that Virginia High School League requirements allowing fall and winter high school sports to continue do not meet CDC guidelines, particularly athletes not distancing or having to wear masks while competing.

“If it’s an outdoor track event where people are staying 10 feet apart, I believe that would be okay,” Haering said. “As long as you don’t have spectators.”

VHSL released guidelines for public schools to return to sports last month, and they include no handshakes between teams, cheerleaders must be distanced and the first row of bleachers must be empty.

Hutchings said that he has “very serious concerns” regarding sports, and that VHSL guidance is contradictory since sports like wrestling are permitted without face masks.

“Even with trying to keep the 10 feet guidelines that have been recommended by the CDC, that is going to limit the number of winter sports that are available, so I am going to follow the guidance that you have provided,” Hutchings told Haering at the meeting. “If there are any winter sports that can afford us to be 10 feet apart and to follow those guidelines, then of course we will adhere to that and we will be able to participate in those particular sports.”

Hutchings acknowledged that he will likely get emails and calls from the community on his decision.

“What I’m trying to do is make sure we are following those CDC guidelines and adhering to them at all times and not when we think it’s convenient,” Hutchings said.

As previously reported, T.C. Williams High School has been gearing up for cheerleading and basketball to start on Dec. 7, followed by winter sports (indoor track, wrestling and swimming) on Dec. 14. The VHSL schedule for public schools also has football games set for February and spring sports (soccer, tennis, baseball, softball, outdoor track and lacrosse) beginning in April.

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