Sports – DeKalb Schools Delays Athletics

DeKalb County School District (DCSD) is delaying all athletic activity for the Fall 2020 season until the end of September. This includes marching bands and auxiliary groups.

Georgia High School Association (GHSA)
DeKalb Schools has been generally more strict than GHSA recommends regarding COVID guidelines. This still seems to be the case. As of August 12, GHSA still recommends a September 4 date for opening football season.

College Football
Big Ten and Pac-12 have delayed all Fall sports until next Spring. SEC, Atlantic Coast and Big-12 conferences are forging ahead with Fall sports.

DeKalb COVID-19 Cases – Daily Count and Cumulative Count
The daily rate of contraction for COVID-19 cases in DeKalb is trending much lower than the state.
Georgia Covid Cases - August 14, 2020

Georgia COVID-19 Cases As Of Aug 13
Georgia Covid Cases - August 14, 2020

Georgia COVID-19 Deaths As Of Aug 13
Georgia Covid Deaths- August 14, 2020

DeKalb County School District Delays Athletic Activities for Fall Season Due to COVID-19

Press Release
DeKalb County School District

STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. – DeKalb County School District (DCSD) announced today 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.

17 responses to “Sports – DeKalb Schools Delays Athletics

  1. In-person Option

    Shame on DCSD for not providing the choice! Corrupted politically biased district!

  2. They are delaying marching bands? When the hell did anyone give marching bands the green light? From what I’ve seen, football has been in person for months while band has been screwed. But hey, can’t hold back those three or four kids who might get a Div1 scholarship and then might get a pro contract if the worlds align.

  3. DSW2Contributor

    @Stan – “SEC, Atlantic Coast and Big-12 conferences are forging ahead with Fall sports.”

    I doubt there will be any college football this fall. Read Mitch Albom’s column “Big Ten cancellation reminds us football is just a game”:

  4. So conditioning can continue through Sept. but a teacher with intermittent internet service can’t come to her/his classroom (door closed, mask on, alone) to teach virtually? A chemistry teacher can’t come in to video experiments that can’t be done safely at home? How is sports more important than instruction – which is the charge of a school district?

  5. I agree with AB’s points about teachers being able to teach from their classrooms. I don’t understand how that’s mutually exclusive with / more important than athletics. Seems like both could happen.

  6. Stan, CCHS CC was notified that NO conditioning or practices are to be held until 1 Oct. We were also told DCSD Athletics had little to know input in this decision. I really would like to stress the need for many of these student athletes to have an outlet and coaches directly involved in their lives. The AJC article stating 80 students and staff had tested positive had ZERO perspective given the 100,000 students and I would guess 20,000 staff. Frustrated to no end and “hell yes” teachers should be given the opportunity to teach from their schools if they wish.

  7. David Axelson

    Another case of Dekalb County taking the easy way out and painting every student with the same broad brush. A decision which has minimal impact on football and significant impact on female athletes in softball, volleyball and cross country. In the 15 years that my kids have attended Dekalb schools, DCSD has done an excellent job of consistently marginalizing female athletes.

    With the move to October 1st, DCSD football teams are likely to miss 4 games. Less than 40% of the season for most teams. Female sports were not delayed at the state level by GHSA, the HS softball regular season is over on October 1st. Dekalb teams will have to rely on the good graces of their region partners to attempt to play a region playoff and state playoff. Softball is a VERY safe sport, socially distanced by nature. It has been safely played by these same players all summer without incident.

    Even Fulton County had the good sense to actually review the schedules for non-football sports before implementing their delay and select a 9/14 return date that allows these hard working athletes some semblance of a season.

  8. I saw a Facebook posting that a DCSD football coach learned about the decision to delay football on Facebook.

    Apparently the District didn’t have the courtesy to inform its football coaches ahead of time.

    I want to believe in the new superintendent. But it is very difficult when both the decision and the means of communication are so amateur. Staff is well paid and should do a professional job, not just continue the sub-par stuff we are used to.

    And I echo the comment from Pat W that “teachers should be given the opportunity to teach from their schools if they wish.”

    The new superintendent’s newsletter shows her visiting Region 5 schools, with special displays set up for her visit and several school staff in attendance.

    So it’s OK for staff to be in the building to welcome the superintendent but not to be in the building to prepare for teaching our kids?

    Like I said, I want to believe but what I see doesn’t match the propaganda.

  9. 100% agree with David Axelson. Total dismissal of female athletes. It appears the only sport they considered was football.

    The text of their announcement rings hollow to other sports, “A delay of the season will afford athletes and coaches more time to prepare and continue engagement through virtual workouts and team meetings. ”

    Due to Covid, volleyball already had a truncated season and had not yet begun playing matches. They only have 3 scheduled after the deadline before the regional tournament. This pretty much kills the season for them as well.

    Further, while boasting about transparency, they have been anything but. There have been no indications for when it will be “safe.” We don’t even know what metrics they are evaluating.

  10. DSW2Contributor

    To better understand where the superintendent is coming from, I’ve been reading about how New York is handling school reopening. Check out this article “Opening Schools Won’t Be Easy, but Here’s How to Do It Safely” by Doctors Ezekiel J. Emanuel, Saskia Popescu and James Phillips:

    Some quotes:
    “First, schools cannot reopen safely when community transmission is high and climbing. In our view, schools should open only in places that have fewer than 75 confirmed cases per 100,000 people cumulatively over the previous seven days, and that have a test positivity rate below 5 percent. ”
    Dekalb County is currently at 290 cases per 100k, over the last two weeks, so we’re not going to be having safe in-person classes anytime soon.
    “Second, schools should avoid high-risk activities. This means no contact sports either in the gym or in competitive athletics for high school students. It also means no band, choir or drama performances. We know that this will be both disappointing and difficult. But close contact for prolonged periods of time with forced exhalations is what increases the risk of transmission. Playing football and basketball and wrestling simply cannot be done safely. We understand that missing a season could lead to missed scholarships for student athletes. But these activities will have to wait a year. That said, we should allow outside physical activity on playgrounds, ideally with masks, and noncontact sports like track and field.”
    I’m not sure if softball is a contact sport or not — my guess is that tagging out base runners would make it a contact sport, but I’m not sure.

  11. David Axelson

    Since we’re posting info from other States, the State of Illinois ranked all of their HS sports on relative COVID risk (GA has not done anything similar but this type of analysis is what has driven GHSA decisions on not delaying softball, volleyball and cross country). Softball and Cross Country fall in the lowest risk category. GHSA modifications do require social distancing in dugout areas along with a number of other precautions.

    Boxing: Higher
    Competitive Cheer: Higher
    Competitive Dance: Higher
    Football: Higher
    Hockey: Higher
    Lacrosse: Higher
    Martial Arts: Higher
    Rugby: Higher
    Ultimate Frisbee: Higher
    Wrestling: Higher
    Basketball: Medium
    Fencing: Medium
    Flag Football or 7v7 Football: Medium
    Paintball: Medium
    Racquetball: Medium
    Soccer: Medium
    Volleyball: Medium
    Water Polo: Medium
    Wheelchair Basketball: Medium
    Archery: Lower
    Badminton: Lower
    Baseball: Lower, if at least 6-feet apart in dugout areas, or players seated 6 feet apart in bleachers behind dugout. If not, this would be considered medium
    Bass Fishing: Lower, if limit number of individuals on boat to allow for social distancing. If not, this would be labeled medium
    Bowling: Lower
    Climbing: Lower
    Crew: Lower
    Cross Country: Lower, if number of teams is significantly limited and physical workspace guidelines followed
    Cycling: Lower, if individual or use only every other track in velodrome. If not, this is considered medium
    Disc Golf: Lower
    Scholastic Golf: Lower
    Gymnastics: Lower if able to clean equipment between participants. Otherwise, considered Medium
    Horseback Riding: Lower
    Ice Skating: Lower, if singles only. Otherwise, higher
    Ropes Courses: Lower, if able to socially distance and clean between each individual. If not, this is considered higher
    Sailing, Canoeing, Kayaking: Lower, if limited number on boat to socially distance. Otherwise, higher
    Sideline Spirit: Lower if 6-feet apart and no stunts or lifts. Otherwise this would be considered higher
    Skateboarding: Lower
    Softball: Lower, if at least 6-feet apart in dugout areas, or players seated 6-feet apart in bleachers behind dugout. If not, this is considered medium
    Swimming/Diving: Lower, if restricted to single lane and singles diving. No relays, synchronized swimming, or paired diving. If not, considered medium
    Tennis: Lower
    Track and Field: Lower, if delayed starts, every other track, and cleaning of equipment between usage; otherwise medium
    Weight Lifting: Lower, if able to clean between each individual. If not, this would be considered medium

  12. Why are we talking about extracurriculars when the schools aren’t open?

  13. DSW2 – I hear you. Community transmission is a valid concern, but I go back to my earlier point. Nobody knows what metrics they’re using. There is no transparency to the process and decision-making. If you want the community to buy into the plan, you have to treat us like adults. That’s Leadership 101. They might have the most scientifically-backed, super-rigorous data analysis and decision-making on the planet, but nobody knows because they just make pronouncements from on high.

    Also, while I understand it’s beyond the scope of what DCSD can control, it would be easier to buy in on shutting down socially distanced athletics if there was more community buy-in on shutting down. All the adults can go pack out the restaurants and retail, but students shouldn’t play sports?

  14. William – all of the benefits of extracurriculars, and sports specifically, are even more important in these crazy times.

    Physical health, teamwork, leadership, time management, accountability, responsibility, socialization, etc.

    These are all skills that teens need to develop, and they can take place in a mostly controlled environment.

  15. Community spread is the metric. If so, then football can’t be exempted while 1st grade isn’t. The problem is that for some reason, colleges are exempted, while 1st grade isn’t. Bars are exempted, but 1st grade isn’t. Regardless if its 2,000 cases per 100,000 or 1,000 or 100 or 10, I don’t understand how football/volleyball/band starts before 1st grade. It was an absolute joke today in online 1st grade.

  16. Is the 9/14 board meeting going to be at 1pm, limiting stakeholder viewing and participation, or at its regularly scheduled 7pm time slot?