Thursday, 02 July 2020 12:14

BREAKING: RCS extends athletic dead period until further notice, new reassessment date 'not yet' set

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Head volleyball coach Ashleigh Larsen (center) is one of six head coaches at Richmond who's not able to practice with her team as the dead period was extended until further notice. Head volleyball coach Ashleigh Larsen (center) is one of six head coaches at Richmond who's not able to practice with her team as the dead period was extended until further notice. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

HAMLET — Richmond County’s interscholastic athletes and coaches will have to wait even longer before voluntary and organized practices and workouts cabe be held.

In a message sent to the Richmond Observer on Wednesday morning by Richmond Senior High School second-year athletic director Rob Ransom, local officials decided to extend the current dead period until further notice.

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association announced it was officially lifting its ban on June 15, but was passing off the final decision to local education agencies to make. 

Richmond County Schools, which had already made two prior setbacks to the return date, made a third and more definitive deision just days before it was predicted it may allow Raiders and Lady Raider athletics to begin training for the fall sports season.

“After discussion with local health officials and out of caution and safety for our student-athletes and coaches, voluntary condition and skills development sessions for all fall sports (on campus) have been postponed,” Ranson wrote. 

“We encourage all of our athletes to continue working out individually in preparation for their season,” he added. “We will continue to monitor this situation and make decisions based on the safety of our students.”

Due to the coronavirus, school campuses in Richmond County, and across the state, are closed to students and athletic departments, which means the locker rooms, weight rooms and practice fields are, too. 

When asked to clarify, Ransom said there is “not yet” another meeting date scheduled to assess health data.

The committee that makes this decision is made up of RCS superintendent Dr. Jeff Maples, human resource director Dr. Julian Carter, associate superintendent Mr. Dennis Quick, along with Richmond principal Jim Butler and Ransom. 

Joining from the health side are Richmond County health director Dr. Tommy Jarrell and Mitch Haddinger, Richmond’s athletic trainer.

When the group made its two prior decisions at different intervals throughout the month of June, there was a follow-up date given for the next meeting. Ransom explained that this time around, it’s a more definitive decision until the health data supports a safe return to sports.

July 6, which is Monday, was the latest projected start date for RCS athletes and coaches to reconvene a sense of normalcy for the first time in over 110 days. The first official practices for fall sports, stated by the NCHSAA, is Aug. 1, now less than a month away.

Gov. Roy Cooper was supposed to make an announcement Wednesday regarding his plans for how the state will conduct its back-to-school protocol in the fall, but he limited that to just laying out three different scenarios.

None of the possible situations explicitly mention or not mention the return of athletics, especially if students are in the classroom full time, out of the classroom for remote learning or are on an every-other-day schedule. 

While there may be some discussion there, information is limited at this time other than the dead period, which started on March 13, will continue into the dog days of summer.

According to information released by Jarrell and the Richmond County Health Department on July 1, the most recent available data, Richmond County currently has 94 active cases of COVID-19. That includes 16 new cases added on the first day of the new month.

Of the active cases, two are hospitalized while the other 92 are in home isolation. The county registered its seventh death caused by the virus earlier this week, but a total of 2,288 negative tests results have been received since testing began.

This is a developing story and ROSports will continue to release information regarding decisions made to extend the dead period or bring it to an end.

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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