SCS coaches send district officials proposal to play football this fall

Updated: Sep. 2, 2020 at 6:32 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Football coaches within Shelby County Schools have submitted a plan to play to SCS Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray.

Athletic conditioning has been ongoing through the summer but the district is not participating in games amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Monday, SCS started the 2020-2021 school year remotely.

Twenty football coaches within SCS sent the letter to district officials in early August. WMC Action News 5 was able to obtain a copy.

It lays out three possible schedules, with two schedules following TSSAA structure and a third where SCS schools play each other.

“We as coaches have made thoughtful considerations with the health and safety of our student athletes paramount and maintain their hopes and prospects of playing and competing this season,” the coaches wrote.

The letter references four pages of guidelines for football enacted by a sporting organization in Wisconsin. They call for social distancing at practice, drills in groups of ten or smaller and students maintaining their own equipment.

Dr. Steve Threlkeld, an infectious disease specialist at Baptist, said there are many aspects of football that make it risky.

“There are many factors that come into play there, and I don’t think we know what the real risk is,” he said. “Whether somebody should play sports is a large and complicated issue, so is whether somebody should be having in-person classes at all with a greater than 10 percent positivity rate.”

Last week two football players at Collierville High School tested positive for the virus. The Shelby County Health Department is now investigating a COVID-19 cluster there, with 14 positive cases and more than 300 people ordered to quarantine. The district enacted virtual learning for two weeks.

“Superintendent Ray is aware of the proposal that has been submitted. He values the input and solution-based feedback from our coaches regarding the District’s return to play this fall,” wrote an SCS spokesperson on Wednesday.

The district said officials will resume the discussion around athletics after Labor Day, which is Monday.

“Shelby County Schools athletic conditioning is continuing without changes this summer. We share the commitment of Governor Bill Lee and Commissioner Penny Schwinn to prioritize health and safety in our communities, but the alarming daily increases in COVID-19 cases in Shelby County create a different narrative than many other areas across the state. SCS will continue to monitor public health conditions and reconvene discussions about fall athletics after Labor Day.”

Last month, Ray announced the creation of an exploratory committee that will look into SCS’s continued participation in the TSSAA citing concern to their response to the pandemic among other issues.

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