Jackson Public Schools cancels falls sports amid COVID-19

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ Fall sports and extracurricular activities for students in Mississippi’s second largest school district have been canceled amid concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jackson Public Schools announced the decision Friday, The Clarion Ledger reported.

“I know how disappointing the cancellation of sports and extracurricular activities may be for students, coaches and parents, but the school district must make decisions that make safety our top priority,” Daryl Jones, the district’s athletic director, said in a news release. “As we will not be able to host competitions with teams in a way that we can comply with the guidance from all levels of government and health officials, we must put safety first.”

In the district’s announcement, alternative methods of developing student-athletes were outlined. Seniors can create highlight videos to introduce themselves to college coaches, officials said. Small group workout sessions emphasizing technique and skill development can also be conducted and there will be a winter showcase for senior student-athletes.

Small group lessons will be held for band members and small-group tumbling assistance and training will be available for cheerleaders, the district said.

The district cited Hinds County’s “hot spot” designation by Gov. Tate Reeves and Mississippi’s high positivity testing rate in making its decision. It also referred to the decision by Power 5 college conferences like the Big Ten and Pac 12 to not play sports this fall.

The Health Department said Saturday that Mississippi, with a population of about 3 million, has had at least 71,755 reported cases and at least 2,080 deaths from COVID-19 as of Friday evening. That’s an increase of 825 confirmed cases and 37 deaths from numbers reported the day before.

The true number of virus infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe or fatal illness.

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