Sumter School District to meet next week about athletics after SCHSL reveals plan


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Sumter School District will be meeting next week to discuss the possibilities of starting up fall sports for the 2020-21 school year after the South Carolina High School announced its intentions on Wednesday following a Zoom meeting of the organization's executive committee.

The SCHSL executive committee voted on Wednesday to maintain the regular order of fall sports, but push back the starting dates for all activities due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shelly Galloway, the executive director of communication and community engagement for Sumter School District, said in an email exchange that district officials "are planning to meet with our high school principals and athletic directors next week to discuss this matter further."

In passing the plan presented by the SCHSL by a 14-2 vote, the committee rejected a plan brought forth by Lexington District 1 that would have had the low-contact sports played in the ball with football moved to starting after the first of the year. It was rejected by a 16-1 vote.

The SCHSL plan would push back the start of practice for all fall sports from July 31 to Aug. 17. Around the first of June, the SCHSL decided that schools could begin conditioning and weightlifting after shutting down the spring sports season for the 2019-20 school year in the middle of March. However, the league left it to the discretion of the schools or the districts as to when they wanted to begin what was called Phase 1.

Sumter School District hasn't allowed the student-athletes at its three high schools - Sumter, Crestwood and Lakewood - to gather for any conditioning or workouts as of yet. It was announced at a Board of Trustees meeting last week that it did not have a possible date in sight of when it might try to move into the Phase 1 workouts.

East Clarendon High in Turbeville began workouts on June 8 and has continued them accept for taking a week off for the Fourth of July holiday. Manning High started on June 15 and continued for two weeks before choosing to shut down the workouts because of the spike in positive tests for the coronavirus. It has yet to restart, but athletic director and football head coach Reggie Kennedy said the issue will be revisited next week.

Scott's Branch High School in Summerton held workouts for over three weeks before deciding to close it down for two weeks because of the increase in positive cases. AD and football head coach Rodney Barr said a decision on possibly restarting will be made by the end of the week.

In the SCHSL plan, the football season would be reduced to seven games and would begin on Sept. 11. The 7-game schedule was chosen to allow all schools in the state to play a full region schedule since some regions include eight schools. Those who don't have seven region games can play non-region contests.

Region games would be played first followed by a 4-round playoff format.

The regular season would end on Oct. 23, with the playoffs starting the next week and state championship games on Nov. 20, if all goes as planned.

However, the plan offers the opportunity to start football as late as Oct. 2 or even move football and other fall sports to the spring.

The SCHSL plan only mentioned the fall sports schedule, not the winter or spring sports. It has yet to move on to Phase 2 in the plan. SCHSL Commissioner Jerome Singleton said in Wednesday's meeting that Phase 2, which includes using equipment in workouts, didn't seem to be a possibility at this time. He mentioned possibly waiting a couple of weeks before doing so.