Jefferson County sports to operate on phased plan

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JCPS, Jefferson County Public Schools

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS/WTVQ) — The Jefferson County Board of Education approved a phased-in plan for fall sports for the upcoming school year, delaying the start of football by one week.

After two hours of discussion Monday, the board voted 5 to 2 in favor of the phased approach, which came at the recommendation of JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio. The vote came around the same Fayette County Public Schools voted to stick with the plan set in place last week by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association. 

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“None of the decisions we are making are about politics, I want to be clear on that,” Dr. Pollio said.

Dr. Pollio and board members were not happy that the KHSAA chose to move forward with all fall sports starting practices Aug. 24, which is why the district came up with its own plan.

“Folks at some other levels have essentially punted on these decisions and left them to local board of education,” JCPS Board Member Dr. Chris Kolb said.

“I’m not going to say there won’t be cases we have to respond to and possibly make tough decisions,” Dr. Pollio said. “But I think in a controlled environment we can do this where we could not have 2,000 kids in a school building.”

JCPS will start with low contact sports then evolve into higher-contact sports after they monitor progress over the course of several weeks.

Low-contact sports, including cheerleading, band, cross country and golf, will begin their practices on Aug. 25. High-contact sports like soccer and volleyball will hold their first practice on Sept. 7, followed by their first game on Sept. 14. There will be an 8-game football season under the plan. Full gear practices will be held Sept. 7 through Sept. 17 with the first game taking place on Sept. 18. KHSAA playoffs are scheduled to begin on Nov. 13.

“We have to have COVID police in our district. We have to hold our coaches accountable in a way they have not been held accountable before,” JCPS Board Member James Craig said.

The sports will be limited to two levels (varsity and freshman-sophomore) and masks will be required for players, non-players and spectators.

“What would end the season for everyone would be not following protocols, guidelines, contact tracing. That will be the quickest way to end it for everyone,” Dr. Pollio said.

Dr. Pollio emphasized Monday night that the district will not hesitate to take action to remove players from teams, or spectators from the stands if any of the safety guidelines aren’t followed.

JCPS said it would also consider additional safety measures including suspending practices or contests for any school or sport if there happens to be an outbreak of the coronavirus.

Officials said middle and high school sports have been postponed until in-person instruction begins. They said they will work to create seasons in all sports so that these students can have opportunities at some point during the year to participate.

You can click here to watch the JCPS Board meeting.