STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. – DeKalb County School District (DCSD) announced Friday afternoon that all athletic activity for the 2020 fall season will be delayed until the end of September due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes marching bands and auxiliary groups. The district will continue conditioning through September while monitoring and revisiting its plan. DCSD will monitor the data provided by health partners and will revisit to make a determination regarding fall sports at the end of September.
The decision comes after reviewing the latest data from the DeKalb County Board of Health and feedback from parents, coaches and other stakeholders regarding the increase of COVID-19 cases in DeKalb County. The district has solicited and received input from the community on this topic and acknowledges that there are different opinions on the matter, however the health and safety of students and staff continues to be the top priority for DCSD.
To garner input and discuss the issue, the district held an Athletic Town Hall on Aug. 4 to engage the community and address concerns. During that event, Dr. Sandra Ford of the DeKalb County Board of Health shared the data outlining the spread of cases in DeKalb County, and other information related to prevention efforts of the district were highlighted. At this time, there have been 14 cases of COVID-19 associated with DCSD sports activity since July 1.
“After evaluating the data and the cases since July 1, the District feels that this decision is in the best interest of our student-athletes, coaches, their families, and the community. The concerns created by coronavirus place our student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk, even after safety measures were implemented during practices,” said Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris. “As a mother of a former high school football player and competitive cheerleader, I understand the role sports play in galvanizing the local community and instilling the values of teamwork, leadership, self-discipline and perseverance among our scholars. However, the current health risk is too great.”
Collegiate coaches are still pursuing student-athletes for scholarship opportunities. A delay of the season will afford athletes and coaches more time to prepare and continue engagement through virtual workouts and team meetings. The district strongly encourages parents, coaches, and local athletic directors to continue appropriate collaboration with collegiate coaches and engage in safe individual workouts.
On June 18, DeKalb County Schools allowed athletes to begin conditioning with restrictions in accordance with Georgia High School Association guidelines (including fewer number of participants in pods, shorter amount of time allowed for activity). The district also implemented temperature checks, encouraged face coverings and monitored social distancing of athletic participants and stated that it would closely monitor data to determine next steps.