Columbus City Schools reinstates athletics, extracurricular activities

STEPHEN BORGNA
sborgna@thisweeknews.com
ThisWeek group

Columbus City Schools announced Aug. 27 that athletics and extracurricular activities could resume Aug. 29 after a two-week hiatus.

In a Zoom teleconference, district spokesman Scott Wortman said the decision was based on Columbus Public Health data indicating positive COVID-19 coronavirus cases have decreased throughout the city since all athletics and extracurricular activities were suspended Aug. 14.

“With this positive trend in public health data, we have decided to allow the resumption of in-person athletics and activities for Columbus City Schools,” Wortman said.

Gov. Mike DeWine also announced Aug. 27 that Franklin County had been lowered from Level 3 “red” to Level 2 “orange” on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System for the coronavirus.

While athletics and extracurricular activities were given a green light, details such as return-to-play timelines and team competition schedules were still in the process of being worked out and may vary depending on the sport or activity, director of student activities Vincent Clarno said.

“There are some details that’ll be worked out internally with particular different activities, because each activity brings about a different set of criteria and logistics,” he said. “As we are opening back up, each individual group will begin to meet with those respected departments, and they’ll work out the details for bringing students back onto our school campuses, obviously, in a safe way.”

Clarno said the district also will examine state guidelines regarding spectator capacities. Outdoor events can have 1,500 fans or 15 percent of seated capacity, whichever number is lower, and no more than 300 fans may attend indoor events.

“We will look at the participation of our student-athletes and the families that are supporting those student-athletes, and we’re going to try to find a way to be within the guidelines and allow families to come out and participate and watch,” Clarno said.

The district said in a statement that it would consider suspending athletics and extracurricular activities again if local health data were to worsen.

Several City League coaches welcomed the news that athletics could resume.

“We are beyond grateful that the school district is allowing us to start moving forward with activities,” Northland football coach Ryan Sayers said. “This is huge for the student-athletes and their future. I told the athletes to stay ready so they don’t have to get ready and our guys have done a phenomenal job with that. I’m excited to be back to say the least.”

“This is very good news for the Columbus City School community,” said Walnut Ridge football coach Byron Mattox, whose team won the City-South Division last season. “We are excited to get back with the kids from all sports and get back to work.”

“They’re kids and they need to play,” Briggs girls volleyball coach Herb Sharfenaker said. “We’re happy to be back.”

Beechcroft boys soccer coach Derek Hone said while the athletes will need to reacclimate themselves and get back into game shape, they're ready to resume the season.

“With the way 2020 has gone, we are grateful and thankful for the opportunity to be together, train and play,” Hone said. “We have empathy and perspective for the victims of the virus and spread. We were hoping our seniors and teams like Mifflin, Northland and Centennial with a lot of their roster back this season would have the opportunity to play.

“Fitness and match shape may be a problem for us, but at this rate, we are just excited to get our Cougars together again. We are so happy the students have not lost a full season of their eligibility.”

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