Parents or guardians of WJCC high school student-athletes must fill out daily family health screenings in order for them to participate in Fall varsity sports.
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — High school athletes in Williamsburg-James City County are getting back to their normal routines as the schools prepare for their return.
Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools announced on Tuesday that it is allowing high school students to participate in varsity athletics in the Fall sports season. This includes football, cross country, field hockey, golf, volleyball and cheer.
“Volleyball and competitive cheer – the only indoor sports – do not require physical contact with the other team, and participants in these activities will wear masks while they compete,” said Kenneth Edwards, Athletic Director for Jamestown High School. “By waiting to play until the Fall season, we have had more time to strengthen and implement health and safety mitigation strategies.”
School officials said sports tryouts and practices will be held from Feb. 8 – 15, and the first football game will be on Feb. 26. This is also the same week that the schools will start gradually bringing students back into classrooms.
As students return to classrooms for in-person and hybrid learning, they will not be able to participate in any junior varsity or middle school fall sports but will get a chance to play in the spring semester.
RELATED: Williamsburg-James City County Schools will instruct most students virtually until at least January
“We are eager for all student-athletes to have the chance to play,” said Dr. Olwen Herron, WJCC Schools superintendent. “But we know that having a small group of students taking part in this season allows us to have a laser-like focus on health and safety measures that need to be in place.”
WJCC said the phased return of athletes was created to reflect the division’s plans for the return of in-person learning. This is so that students won’t all come back at once, but in a more safe and organized way.
“Players and coaches will stay 6 feet apart when not actively playing, masks will be worn on the sidelines, equipment will be disinfected often, and hand-sanitizer will be available,” explained Kyle Neve, Athletic Director for Lafayette High School.”
According to WJCC officials, the participation of varsity athletes is voluntary and all parents or guardians of the student-athletes are required to sign a COVID-19 waiver, acknowledging that their families will need to fill out daily home health screenings.
This means parents will need to confirm that they understand that if a player or coach tests positive for COVID-19 or is diagnosed as “presumed positive” for it by a doctor, then that team will not be allowed to practice or play.
If a player does not follow the rules, they may be removed from the team or school athletic program.
“We are going to watch our local COVID-19 transmission rates and how well we are using face coverings, cleaning equipment, and keeping players six feet apart,” Dan Mullen, Athletic Director for Warhill High School added. “If we can’t keep our student-athletes and coaches safe, we will pause the season immediately.”
RELATED: WJCC Schools cancels winter sports season
Fall sports take place outdoors and allows fresh air, which is why it is better with the social distancing rules compared to the Winter season.
WJCC Schools teams are competing against each other and other schools that are in closer districts. The Bay Rivers District is scheduling games based on its location as a way to limit travel and the amount of time spent on buses during away games.