IN THIS CORNER

It’s hard to tell exactly where we stand with high school sports taking place this fall during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association (NCISAA), a private high school organization, announced its plans to resume fall sports in August, including football.

Fall practices, which were set to begin July 27, will be delayed until Aug. 10 for cross country, soccer, volleyball and golf with competitions starting on Aug. 31. Football games won’t start until at least Sept. 4.

The NCISAA features 97 schools, 35 of which play football.

Last week, the N.C. High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA), the governing body for public schools in the state, announced it would delay fall sports practices to Sept. 1.

The first day of official practice typically occurs on Aug. 1 for the 421-school organization.

The NCHSAA’s announcement came after Gov. Roy Cooper revealed state schools would be operating under a plan that includes a mix of in-person and virtual instruction. The plan requires daily temperature and health screening checks, maintaining 6 feet of social distancing, increased school cleanings and face coverings to be worn by all school employees and students.

In the meantime, many school districts haven’t even permitted offseason summer workouts.

According to comprehensive data compiled by HighSchoolOT.com’s Nick Stevens, only 81 of 163 school districts known as Local Education Agencies (LEAs) have returned to workouts, including 178 of 416 schools. Schools that have allowed student-athletes to return tend to be in less metropolitan areas. Those schools represent 155,607 students. Schools representing 284,752 students have suspended workouts.

It’s difficult to imagine student-athletes being allowed to play sports under a virtual-only learning scenario.

According to The News & Observer’s T. Keung Hui, more than 20 percent of state public school students will at least open the new school year learning from home because officials don’t believe it’s safe to reopen for in-person classes.

School districts and charter schools not opening with in-person instruction represent 330,704 of North Carolina’s 1.5 million K-12 public school students, or 21.7 percent of enrollment.

Some of the districts going remote only to begin the school year include Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Chatham County, Dare County, Durham County, Henderson County, Hickory Public Schools, Lexington City Schools, Orange County, Rockingham County, Scotland County, Stokes County, Thomasville City Schools, Vance County, Warren County and Winston-Salem/Forsyth.

Considering this information, it’s as tough to see where we are today con-cerning the start or possibility of fall prep sports as it was a month ago.

(Send comments or questions to jj@thenewstimes.com or follow him on Twitter @jjsmithccnt.)

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