As the COVID-19 pandemic worsens in South Carolina, the likelihood of starting the fall high school sports season on time continues to remain in serious doubt.
Public schools across the state got the go-ahead to begin workouts on June 8. But since then, many districts have pulled the plug or delayed the start of workouts.
On Sunday, the South Carolina Department of Environmental Control reported 1,366 new cases. The state has been at or above record-daily coronavirus counts over the past three weeks, an indicator that the virus’ activity is increasing.
The South Carolina High School League voted Thursday to mandate schools to follow its Phase 1 guidelines, with most Lakelands schools continuing with workouts.
Greenwood County remains one of the least-affected areas in the state by the virus, but other school districts have already made adjustments.
Laurens schools announced they are shutting down summer workouts until July 20. Greenville County Schools announced it is suspending its summer workouts until numbers decrease.
Union County recently suspended its workouts after a coach tested positive. Beaufort County schools have also suspended their workouts until July 20 because of a rise in cases in the area.
Newberry County schools — which includes Newberry, Mid-Carolina and Whitmire high schools — were set to start summer workouts last Monday, but those plans were nixed after the recent spike in cases.
The increase in the number of cases has put the start of the fall sports season in jeopardy.
SCHSL Commissioner Jerome Singleton expressed his concerns Thursday about playing sports in the fall unless things change with the trajectory of COVID-19 cases, adding that he’s been made aware of several high school athletes across the state testing positive for the virus.
“We thought those originally were affecting those 60 years or older. Now, the indication, the people that are most affected are ages 15 to 25, and those are our students,” Singleton said during Thursday’s meeting with the SCHSL executive committee. “If changes don’t come into place, it will be very hard to put any of our fall sports seasons together.”
It is still too difficult to predict whether there will be a football season at all in the fall. The first date for high school football games is set for Aug. 20, but the outlook for the start of the season could drastically change in the coming months should the virus not slow.