If high school sports began today, it’s likely no Roanoke Valley schools could participate

Seven schools districts will be looking at metrics from VDH and the CDC

These 13 Roanoke Valley high schools are following the same guidelines as to when sports can resume. (Benjamin Solomon, 2020 Benjamin Solomon / WSLS 10)

ROANOKE, Va. – We’re less than a month from the return of high school sports in Virginia.

With basketball practices starting Dec. 7 and other winter sports beginning on Dec. 14, it’s a time many have been waiting for.

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However, if sports began today, many area schools would likely not be able to take part, according to the new guidelines laid out by the seven school districts within the Roanoke-Alleghany Health District.

Leaders from Roanoke City Public Schools, Roanoke County Public Schools, Alleghany Couty Public Schools, Botetourt County Public Schools, Covington City Public Schools, Craig County Public Schools and Salem City Public Schools worked together to develop a set of guidelines, announcing the metrics they’re monitoring in order for games to happen.

The two key metrics these schools will use are the VDH weekly transmission extent (7-day metric) and the CDC School Metrics dashboard (14-day metric)

Here’s what school leaders will be looking at when it comes to the first metric:

  • The region of the localities participating schools, as well as the locality of the event, must be at a moderate, low, or minimal burden and transmission level to participate
    • In the map below, the Near Southwest region includes Alleghany County, Amherst County, Appomattox County, Bedford County, Botetourt County, Campbell County, Covington, Craig County, Danville, Floyd County, Franklin County, Giles County, Henry County, Lynchburg, Martinsville, Montgomery County, Patrick County, Pittsylvania County, Pulaski County, Radford, Roanoke County, Roanoke and Salem.
  • If the data is trending upward, it will be monitored daily to ensure that the region continues to experience the needed burden and transmission levels for participation

Now, the guidelines above are not ironclad as there is an exception.

If the region is experiencing high burden and or high transmission, but guidance from the local health department indicates that there are extenuating circumstances in the region that minimizes the impact on the activity, the activity can continue as scheduled.

The interactive graphic below from VDH breaks down the weekly transmission extent.

The is the second metric schools will be using, the CDC School Metrics dashboard, also has qualifications that must be met for sports to happen.

  • Localities involved in the event must be at the moderate risk level or lower for both metrics in the core indicators section:
    • Total number of new cases per 100,000 persons within the last 14 days
    • Percentage of RT-PCR tests that are positive during the last 14 days

If any core indicator for any locality involved, or the location of the event, indicates high or highest risk, the activity will be postponed or canceled unless the local health department verifies that there are extenuating circumstances in the locality at high or highest risk.

If there are extenuating circumstances and the activity can continue, the schools involved should also consider reducing the number of students and staff who travel and/or participate to only essential personnel.

Lastly, any school that’s experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak will communicate directly with its local health district as well as someone from the participating schools to make a decision about the scheduled activity.

The interactive graphic below from VDH contains these core indicators.