Sumter School District still holds keys to when - if - fall sports will begin


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The decision as to when or if Sumter School District will allow a restart of fall sports is still in the hands of Superintendent Dr. Penelope Martin-Knox and not the South Carolina High School League.

After a meeting on Monday between district administration and coaches, Sumter High School assistant coach James Breland posted on his public Facebook and Twitter pages, "GOOD NEWS: Our superintendent has allow us to play football whenever the season starts! Now we're waiting on the approved date to start practice."

In an email from Shelly Galloway, the district's executive director of communication and community engagement, Martin-Knox said, "Due to the increase of COVID-19 cases in our community and state, athletic practices and workouts are still postponed (for Sumter School District high schools Sumter, Lakewood and Crestwood). When the South Carolina High School League determines that it is safe for athletics to resume, Sumter School District will follow suit if it is safe to do so in our community."

Sumter School District has yet to allow its fall sports student-athletes to begin workouts of weightlifting and conditioning. The South Carolina High School League said around the first of June that schools could begin Phase 1 workouts at their own discretion.

The district is using statistics obtained from the Department of Health and Environmental Control to determine when it will allow student-athletes to begin practice. They are 2-week incidence rate per 100,000, trend in incidence rate and 2-week percent positive rate.

At this point, Sumter County is classified as high in each of the three criteria. It Is second in , the percent-positive rate at 35.9%. Clarendon County has the highest rate at 36.2%. Each of the other counties are in the 20s or lower.

Sumter's incidence rate is 585.8 per 100,000 residents.

The district said it will "continue to monitor this data to determine when it is safe for our athletes to begin workouts and practices."

It did not state what criteria needs to be met in order to begin workouts or practice, however.

Two weeks ago, the SCHSL pushed back the start of practice for all fall sports from July 31 to Aug. 17. In the SCHSL plan, the football season would be reduced to seven games and would begin on Sept. 11.

Last week, the SCHSL decided schools could move to Phase 1.5 beginning on Monday.

The move to 1.5 will allow the workout pods to include more people and also will allow some sports equipment to be used.

Group workouts will increase from 10 -- nine athletes and one coach -- to 16. The sharing of the ball along with other equipment would also be allowed with the same rules set for sanitizing, mask requirements and social-distancing rules.