Roanoke City Public Schools postpones middle school athletics due to coronavirus concerns


ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — As a precaution amid the coronavirus pandemic, Roanoke City school officials announced overnight that middle school athletics will be postponed for the 2020-2021 school year.

“The decision is necessary due to COVID-19 levels in our City and the health and safety protocols required during practices and competitions,” said Roanoke City Public Schools Superintendent Verletta B. White in a letter to families released on Wednesday, Dec. 9. “To comply with the COVID-19 mitigation strategies and guidelines, additional staffing and space are required. The additional restriction of limiting spectators to 25 also means that Roanoke City Schools cannot effectively and successfully support a middle school athletic schedule at this time.”

However, White says Roanoke City Public Schools’ goal is to implement school-based athletic programs at each middle school starting in February, pending decreases in local coronavirus cases to fit the CDC’s criteria for a moderate or lower transmission stage.

According to the school district, each sports program will have a three-week period to hold drills, practices, and workouts at the schools, but there will be no competitions between the middle schools for the 2020-21 school year. 

Wednesday’s statement offered the following tentative schedule for school-based athletic programs in 2021: 

Date (three weeks): Indoor/Gym-Outdoor 

  • Feb. 1 to Feb. 19: Volleyball Cross Country/Track 
  • Feb. 22 to March 12: Girls Basketball/Boys Soccer 
  • March 15 to April 1: Wrestling/Girls Soccer 
  • April 12 to April 30: Boys Basketball/Softball 
  • May 3 to May 21: Tennis/Baseball 

While Roanoke City Public Schools will make a decision about the football program at a later date, White says the middle school football program is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 4, 2021 through April 1, 2021, which will allow middle school football to keep playing under the umbrella of the high school football program at each high school. 

In addition, eighth graders will reportedly be allowed to participate in their respectively-zoned high school junior varsity teams. 

However, this plan hinges on the status of local coronavirus numbers and the appropriate maintenance of health mitigations and guidelines.

“I know middle school sports are important to you and your student,” White said in Wednesday’s statement. “Thank you for your understanding and patience as we work together during these challenging times.”

Follow this link to read White’s full letter to Roanoke City Public Schools’ middle school families.

You can also watch a recording of the Roanoke City School Board meeting from Tuesday, Dec. 8, here:

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