High school administrators at Cuyahoga Falls, Tallmadge and Twinsburg are following the advice of Summit County Public Health and have made the decision to delay the start of football, volleyball and soccer competition against other schools to Oct. 1 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Football, volleyball and soccer players at Cuyahoga Falls, Tallmadge and Twinsburg will still be permitted to train on school grounds in August and September under the Phase 3 guidelines.
"Over the last few weeks, we have had a lot of discussions with both the Suburban League athletic directors and the Northeast Ohio group of athletic directors," Cuyahoga Falls Athletic Director Kenny Johnson said Saturday.
"When the Summit County health department came out with the recommendations, I had a discussion with our Superintendent [Todd Nichols] and our high school principal [Allison Bogdan], and we have decided that following their recommendations and trying to keep our kids as safe as possible is the best thing to do.
"I think it is hard to go against the recommendation of the Summit County health department considering they are the medical experts, and they are the ones that are going to be able to tell you what is best for the safety of our kids and adults."
Johnson added that the Black Tigers golf and tennis teams are moving forward with practices as scheduled, and that the cross country teams will compete in only Suburban League dual meets.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association Board of Directors reaffirmed its position Friday afternoon that the fall sports seasons will go forward as planned, and practices across the state started Saturday.
Athletes are expected to wear masks to and from practice, bring their own water bottles and utilize proper social distancing while not exercising. Coaches wear masks during the entire practice session, and equipment and inside facilities – such as gyms and weight rooms – are to be properly cleaned regularly.
Governor Mike DeWine announced Thursday that there were 1,733 new COVID-19 cases reported, which is the highest daily count that Ohio has had since the health crisis started.
The number of COVID-19 cases declined Friday and Saturday, but several health departments across Ohio continue to advise schools to not compete in sports, including Summit County Public Health, Portage County Health District, Cuyahoga County Board of Health and Franklin County Public Health.
"I feel that it is wise to follow the recommendations of the public health department in the county that you are a part because not doing so undermines the purpose of the institution, which is to protect the people it serves," Tallmadge Athletic Director Tim Mosher said. "It makes sense to follow the recommendations of the medical experts because they know what they are talking about. When you don't do it, it undermines the purpose of their work, which is to protect the health of the public.
"... We are sincerely appreciative of Summit County Public Health and the guidance that they have provided to us."
Mosher shared the Tallmadge COVID-19 fall sports plan on Saturday, which is a document with details on how fall sports teams can begin practices on Monday.
"The low-risk sports of boys/girls golf, boys/girls cross country, and girls tennis are permitted to begin practicing 5-6 days per week AND participate in scheduled competition with opposing schools," the Tallmadge document says. "... Cross country is only permitted to participate in events with three total teams competing ... any events with 4 or more teams is considered a moderate-risk competition and we will not participate."
Tallmadge considers football, soccer and volleyball as moderate-risk and high-risk sports. Those three sports "will be evaluated through the month of August in consultation with the Summit County Public Health Department," according to the document, and a "move into full practice, at the earliest, would be on Tuesday, September 8th."
Twinsburg Athletic Director Brian Fantone said the Tigers' golf, tennis and cross country teams will officially start practices on Monday. The cross country teams will have a dual meet schedule only.
"I'm excited that as of August 1st, all of our student-athletes and coaches still have a season ahead of them to look forward to, although it may look different than we had originally planned for some of our sports," Fantone said. "Our entire school district is committed to providing as many opportunities as we can for our students, while both respecting and following guidance and recommendations from the Summit County health department. Our coaches and student-athletes are extremely grateful for the hope that we still have for our seasons."
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