COVID-19 sidelines high school football, putting Southwest, Central Virginia teams on pause

Players in quarantine have made programs switch up their game plans

The increase in COVID-19 cases is causing concern and confusion on high school football fields.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – The spike in COVID-19 is causing concern and confusion on high school football fields.

COVID-19 cases and quarantine may not be part of the game plan, but it’s putting their play on pause.

Alleghany County paused its program last week, and now other districts are doing the same.

Rob Graham, superintendent of Radford City Public Schools, says their high school team canceled practices after multiple athletes tested positive this week.

Players are in quarantine and will be retested Thursday, in hopes of getting back on the field that afternoon.

“[Health leaders] will do some contact tracing to see if it’s okay to go ahead and allow those that aren’t positive to continue to practice, while we quarantine those that might test positive,” said Graham.

Galax High School Principal Charles Byrd says they, too, are being sidelined.

“We had a member of our football program test positive last week, and we’re currently following our safety protocol. Our team is quarantined,” said Byrd.

Coaches are working with athletes virtually and plan to be back on the field Monday. They’re reviewing their schedule to see if they have to cancel upcoming scrimmages.

Meanwhile, reports say Carroll County is pausing its program. Principal Charles Thompson says otherwise.

“We are practicing still, and as of yesterday, we were practicing. We are not shut down. We are not paused,” said Thompson.

The team did cancel Friday’s scrimmage against Christiansburg as a precaution, because some players may have been exposed.

“We do have, at least I heard, three student-athletes who are under quarantine,” said Thompson.

This all comes as the Virginia High School League announced Wednesday that individual districts can determine if masks are optional for extracurricular activities.

Leaders say the law cited by Governor Ralph Northam during an August 5 news conference only applies to in-person instruction.

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.