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JCPS To Allow Football Teams To Compete In State Playoffs

The Kentucky Board Of Education is calling for more guidance from KHSAA on fall sports.
The Kentucky Board Of Education is calling for more guidance from KHSAA on fall sports.

Update Nov. 7, 10:45 a.m.: The KHSAA has announced they are pushing back the start of football playoffs by one week "in an effort to provide schools and school systems time to review their situations and work with their health departments to determine the best course of action."

Playoffs are scheduled to begin the weekend of Nov. 19-21.

Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) will allow football teams to compete in state playoffs next week. The decision comes as COVID-19 cases are surging across the commonwealth. On Thursday, Gov. Andy Beshear reported yet another daily record of 2,318 cases.

“JCPS football teams will be allowed to compete in the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) state playoffs next week, as we have let other teams participate in postseason play,” an email from the district read Friday.

“Those games are under the jurisdiction of KHSAA. All teams will follow strict protocols throughout the weeks ahead.”  

The letter said the decision was made “after reviewing this week’s data and guidelines established by the state.”

The district has canceled regular season football games for the past two weeks.

The KHSAA is restricting fans, as they have throughout the regular season. Each team member will be allowed 4 tickets for family. No other tickets will be available, according to JCPS spokesperson Mark Hebert.

“I think it is the right decision,” Jefferson County Board of Education member James Craig told WFPL News. 

“There’s been spread linked to sports. But there has not been significant spread linked to JCPS sports teams,” he said. 

Louisville Public Health director Sarah Moyer has said there have been clusters of COVID-19 linked to school sports teams, which would include both public and private schools. But a JCPS document shared by Craig shows the number of confirmed cases has been limited to 1 or 2 students per team throughout the fall. Male High School’s Volleyball team had the most confirmed cases, with three students testing positive.

Meanwhile board member Chris Brady said he has “difficulty with us having sports right now at all.” 

Brady was one of two board members, along with Corrie Shull, who voted in August against the district’s decision to have sports. He expressed concern the data the district has on COVID cases among sports teams may not be the whole picture. But he said he thinks the district is “making the best call they can.”

“As much as I would like to see us put safety first above everything, I understand there is a case to be made that athletics are very important as well,” he said.

Brady said he is more concerned about winter sports, especially wrestling and basketball. Practices for those sports began at the end of October.

“The fall sports mostly take place outside. Winter sports are a bigger concern because all those sports take place inside,” he said.

Researchers say the coronavirus spreads much more easily indoors, where air is more stagnant and there are fewer changes in temperature and humidity.

Football playoffs were scheduled to begin next Friday, Nov. 13, but the KHSAA decided Saturday morning to push playoffs the weekend of Nov. 19-21.

Jess Clark is LPMs Education and Learning Reporter. Email Jess at jclark@lpm.org.