Bedford County School Board votes to delay start of athletic competitions due to COVID-19 concerns

Teams currently only allowed to practice

BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. – School leaders in Bedford County are choosing to delay the start of school athletic competitions due to the number of COVID-19 cases in the community.

In a special meeting Thursday night, the Bedford County School Board voted 4-3 in favor of delaying the return to athletic competitions.

Board chair Martin Leamy was one of three board members who voted against the delay.

“I’m deeply disappointed in the outcome of tonight’s vote I think we’ve done a grave disservice to our student athletes by continuing the restrictions,” Leamy said.

The board adopted a matrix using guidelines and CDC data for local COVID-19 case numbers and positivity rates. School leaders said those numbers are guiding their decisions and the numbers just aren’t where they would like to see them.

“It gives our principals and athletic directors data on which to base their decisions on whether or not to compete so there’s less guess work but also it provides equal standards for all three of our high schools,” school board member Jason Johnson said.

Those wanting to return to competition said students and parents are being robbed of camaraderie and special moments. Their main argument is that students are still competing outside of school.

“They’re going to find a way and that way is going to be travel ball which unfortunate is that there are students out there that will not be able to compete because they cannot afford to participate in travel sports,” Leamy said.

But Johnson said what they can’t afford to do as a division is introduce any more risk. He wants students to compete and said it’s the community’s burden to get COVID-19 cases down.

“We need to pull together as a community, as Bedford County, as Lynchburg, Roanoke, all of our surrounding areas, and create the conditions whereby we can return to competition as soon as possible,” Johnson said.

Teams are currently allowed to participate in practices and conditioning.

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