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Ohio Co. Schools Considering Path Back to Sports

WHEELING — Ohio County Schools took the first step toward the resumption of athletics during Monday’s board of education meeting, but many more decisions will need to be made before the Patriot teams begin their three-week, coaching period on July 6.

Assistant Superintendent Rick Jones alerted the board of education that there are going to be regulations from the respective county health departments whenever the counties receive the clearance to open their school facilities back up.

When that day comes is still completely up in the air.

“There honestly hasn’t been any discussion on the opening of school facilities,” Jones said. “That tells me that we’re still a little while away from such a decision. Dr. (Kim) Miller contacted superintendents throughout the state and most indicated they were planning to move their three-week coaching period to July.”

Since the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission implemented the three-week window for coaching, most counties, including Ohio, have opted to utilize June, but because of the pandemic, the calendar needed revised.

During the school board meeting, Jones threw out some possible measures that could be taken such as testing for all student-athletes and coaches before a practice or workout could commence.

However, he stressed Tuesday afternoon that there’s been nothing finalized as of yet.

“We believe, and I have talked to (Ohio County Health Department Administrator) Howard Gamble and what he believes will happen if (the state) says high school athletes can begin conditioning, for the three-week window, is there there will be regulations to follow,” Jones said.

While not definitivie, Jones left open the option that the Ohio County Schools may do more than simply what’s required from the state.

“It’ll probably be a combination of what (the state) tells us and if we take extra precautions, but there’s really no clear idea of what this will totally look like,” Jones said.

Should it be required to test all student-athletes and coaches, how and when would be the first items to determine.

Jones believes that as testing becomes more readily available that it could get to the point where, similar to how physicals are given, a group of athletes are tested in a certain time window and once they’re finished another group arrives.

“If you’re able to allow the health professionals to test several hundred kids in a time frame and then get the results back in three or four days, it could give us a nice baseline at whether or not it’s safe,” Jones said.

Jones stressed, however, that plan is not etched in stone and there are many moving parts involved.

The school district is already being pro-active as it begins to look at the weight room and other areas of high volume contact.

The district has ordered upwards of 50 “sanitizing guns” that make spraying down equipment and even classrooms much simpler and faster. There are plans to order more for the teachers to use, too.

“We know we’re going to sanitize things very well and these sanitizing guns will allow it to be done a lot faster and more often,” Jones said.

Jones also complimented head football coach Chris Daugherty and strength coach Chris Dunaway on the planning and work they’ve already invested in making sure their plans are in place for the weightroom and other areas.

“They’re coming up with a list of protocols they’d like to see, so we could take their ideas, whatever our health administration comes up with and what the governor’s office requires and try to formulate the best plan possible,” Jones said.

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