High school student athletes and coaches eager to begin the fall season had their wish granted following a unanimous vote by the Suburban Conference to proceed with fall sports.
The Suburban Conference, consisting of 27 member schools, voted to allow fall sports to continue. Boys soccer, girls softball, cross country, girls golf, girls tennis, girls volleyball, boys swimming and diving, and football will be able to begin the season as planned, albeit with a number of COVID-19 related restrictions.
The decision goes going against the advice of local health departments, including Jackson County Health Department, that recommended schools and activities not begin prior to Labor Day.
The Friday night football experience in Grain Valley will be quite a bit different this year, with only two guest tickets granted per player, no band, and no student section.
Other sports face reduced or eliminated spectators, and all sports will continue to practice social distancing and wearing of masks when not actively engaged in physical activity.
In a parent meeting held via Zoom prior to the Suburban Conference vote, Grain Valley High School Athletic Director Brandon Hart emphasized to parents that flexibility and patience will be key as schools navigate holding activities during a pandemic.
“If there’s anything I’ve learned throughout this experience, is that we have to be able to adapt and overcome. We have to be flexible,” Hart said.
Hart also emphasized the need for parents to be a part of helping to mitigate community spread of the virus to ensure activities can continue. Any student athletes coming in direct contact with someone testing positive for COVID-19 must quarantine for 14 days, potentially impacting the ability of team sports to continue.
“We are trying to provide the safest possible environment for your student. At the end of the day, we are really are going to depend on parents to keep our kids away from the virus as best as possible.”
“The season rests on your shoulders as much, if not more, than the kids. Help us try to limit your kids exposure outside of school. The more opportunities we can keep them from being around a positive COVID-19 case, the better off we are going to be.”
Reached for comment following the vote, Hart expressed his excitement that students would be able to proceed with competing this fall.
“Grain Valley is excited to proceed with fall sports. I feel proud to live and work in a community that recognizes the benefits of participating in high school. High school athletics have a way of promoting a sense of community, and it teaches our kids values that cannot be taught in a traditional setting. We have learned a lot over the past 5 months, and I am confident we are taking the necessary precautions to keep our students safe and limit risks. Through mitigation, I strongly believe the benefits of participation outweigh the risks,” Hart said.
Grain Valley Eagles football heads to Smithville Friday, August 28th and softball is set to host a tournament on Friday at Grain Valley High School.
For the most current schedule of fall events, visit the Grain Valley High School Activities page at http://gvshs.ss14.sharpschool.com/activities .
(Edited 8/28/2020 to add girls volleyball as one of listed fall sports.)