TAYLOR COUNTY—In the midst of uncertainty surrounding high school and middle school athletics in the state of West Virginia due to the current pandemic, GHS, TCMS, and the county’s local youth programs were still able to begin practicing on Monday for fall sports.
In coordination with the WVSSAC, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice also introduced a color-coded system to approve or suspend in-person instruction and athletics for school systems around the state. Justice made the announcement at Friday’s COVID-19 response press briefing.
Also addressing the metrics were WVSSAC Director Bernie Dolan.
“Coaches and administrators have shown that they can handle and follow the guidelines,” stated an optimistic Dolan. “We think we have done it very well and very safely. Our color code works hand-inhand with the color code for the schools.”
Dolan is hopeful that the publication and daily updates of the map will get counties and individual communities focused on allowing students to return to school and student-athletes returning to practices and competitions.
“We think that this system will allow communities to get behind the initiative to move the color closer to green, and then finally get to green. There will be incentives for communities to move. We think that with our coaches and administrators and players all leading the way, we think that we are going to head in the right direction. I don’t know of another plan that is out there that is like this, that incentivizes the community to get better. Not only to be healthier but allow more activities to go on.”
Four phases (green, yellow, orange, and red) are in place which are based on the percentage of cases in each individual county per 100,000 people. The map showing the details is now posted on the DHHR website and is updated regularly.
Taylor County is shown as being in the yellow, but various sources have reported that the county’s numbers and designation may be incorrect, and that the cases may be substantially less than originally reported.
Grafton High School Athletic Director and head football coach Rich Bord shared his thoughts on what he expects to happen moving forward in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic and sports around the state.
“I honestly think that we’re in a position where if the governor has his way, we’ll play fall sports on a county-by-county basis,” Bord said on Tuesday. “That is, as long as everyone follows the guidelines that have been established and continue to keep themselves and their players safe. “Now, if they choose not to do that, then there is a good chance we’ll find ourselves where they cancel fall sports altogether. So this is not a time to be selfish.”
Over in Pruntytown, TCMS Principal and Athletic Director Matt Keener was pleased with what he saw from his athletic programs on the first official day of practice and commended everyone involved for adhering to safe procedures and protocols.
“TCMS fall sports started out great on Monday,” Keener said. “All of the fall sports held practice and/or tryouts and followed all the guidelines from the WVSSAC. The coaches go above and beyond to take extra precautions for the health of the student-athletes and coaching staffs. We have a great group of athletes and coaches and we will have a great fall season. Go Knights!”