The Cherokee County School District announced on its website Thursday that athletics would continue for the county's high schools, though superintendent Brian Hightower would review cases "over the coming days" in connection with the growing COVID-19 pandemic.
County athletic director Tonya Sebring confirmed via email Thursday afternoon that the county's participation in Georgia High School Association-sanctioned events would continue as scheduled unless otherwise announced. The only exceptions will be the cancellation of out-of-state competitions due to the district's cancellation of out-of-state field trips.
GHSA executive director Robin Hines said school districts would have the prerogative to do what they feel is best in their specific situations.
“As far as we’re concerned, if schools do cancel events, it's certainly a local decision that we will honor,” Hines said. “The schools need to be doing their best due diligence in talking with their boards of health and figure out what’s best for them.”
Hines said that if a team does not compete in a scheduled event, it would not be penalized by way of forfeiture, fines or restitution. He referenced the situation with schools affected by Hurricane Irma in 2017 as an example of working with schools dealing with situations beyond their control, but he added that, in his 38 years in education, he has never experienced anything quite like this.
“I have never seen or had to deal with anything like this,” Hines said. “It’s different. It’s a pandemic. I think things will probably get worse before they get better, but I’m certainly not a medical doctor. We’re trying not to overreact, but we’re trying to do the best thing for our kids, that’s why we’re relying heavily on the health departments and the CDC.”
Hines was scheduled to attend a briefing tomorrow morning with medical experts and said he and his office were continuing to gather information as it became readily available.
Update: Following Governor Brian Kemp's recommendation the GHSA announced on its website Thursday afternoon it's recommendation that all it's member schools 'suspend spring sports activities until further notice.'
“The regular season belongs to the schools themselves,“ said Dr. Robin Hines, Executive Director of the GHSA in a press release. “We can only recommend that they suspend playing. The final decision will rest with the local school systems, but we hope they heed the Governor’s and the GHSA’s recommendations.”