Fayette County Public Health (FCPH) has seen an increase of COVID-19 cases among student-athletes in both the Miami Trace Local and Washington Court House City School Districts over the past 7 days. A total of 26 positive cases among students have been reported since December 9, 2020. As a result, nine school sports teams are fully quarantined and one is partially quarantined, representing approximately 100 student-athletes between the two districts.
Case investigations and contact tracing have revealed that most of the current school cases are occurring among students who participate in sports. This is not entirely surprising, as indoor activities including winter sports are considered higher risk than outdoor activities/sports. This not only affects the teams by eliminating their ability to practice and compete, but it also prevents the students who participate in sports from participating in onsite learning. A few students have been quarantined numerous times. As a result, Fayette Public Health is concerned that student-athletes are not receiving the education that they need and deserve.
Fayette County Public Health is therefore advising that all school sports competitions at Miami Trace Local Schools, Washington Court House City Schools, and Fayette Christian School be suspended from December 19, 2020 until at least January 4, 2021. The option to allow for hybrid schedules to continue practices throughout the holiday break is being developed and will be presented by the school districts upon completion. By continuing hybrid practices the student athletes will be able to stay conditioned and hopefully prevent injuries once competitions return.
This recommendation was presented to Miami Trace Local Schools, Washington Court House City Schools, and the Fayette Christian School. The administration at all three districts are in agreement that this is in the best interest of the students at this time. Preserving in-school education is the priority and outbreaks and quarantines from sports threaten onsite learning. This was not an easy decision and it's understood that there will be disappointment, but it's hoped this pause from competitions and the implementation of hybrid practice schedules will allow students to stay healthy and return to school after the holiday break.
On behalf of Fayette County Public Health, Deputy Health Commissioner Leigh Cannon emphasizes that the administration and staff at all three districts are doing everything that they can to ensure a safe school environment for the students and athletes. Fayette Public Health supports their efforts and while everyone looks forward to a full return to in-person learning, the health department knows that the hybrid model is working. With this model, fewer staff and students have been quarantined, and in turn, more students have been able to stay in school and benefit from some degree of in-person learning.