JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — Health officials in Johnson County are urging school districts not to allow indoor winter sports, such as basketball and wrestling, where COVID-19 mitigation techniques aren’t possible.

In a letter sent to superintendents throughout the county, Health Department Director Dr. Sanmi Areola said there are risks associated with indoor sports due to the level of community transmission of the virus.

“While school districts permitted athletics and activities during the summer and fall months, many were outdoor sports that allowed for some safeguards to minimize the risk of widespread transmissions,” Dr. Areola said.

“The risk of transmission of the virus is significantly higher with indoor sports and activities. The chances of widespread transmission in schools is higher if these indoor activities are performed, especially when spectators are allowed.”

The decision on whether or not to allow winter indoor sports or fans would ultimately be up to each individual school district; however, the health department is recommending some mitigation techniques should schools decide to allow them.

Those mitigation techniques include wearing face masks, grouping teams together, quick testing to identify positive cases, not allowing fans or limiting fan attendance, and monitoring for symptoms.