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Columbus City Schools Allows Sports Again As Outbreak Eases In Franklin County

Empty Basketball Courts at the former Dominion Middle School.
Mary Rathke
WOSU Public Media
Empty Basketball Courts at Dominion Middle School.

Columbus City Schools will once again allow sports and other extracurriculars, just two weeks after the district suspended in-person activities, due to dropping rates of new COVID-19 cases in the area.

Thursday's news comes quickly after Ohio downgraded Franklin County from a "red" level three public health emergency to an "orange" level two for the first time.

“When we made the decision to suspend in-person athletics and activities to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our community, we were intentional about not postponing our fall seasons completely,” said Columbus City Schools superintendent Talisa Dixon said in a press release. “We knew that if the data improved in our district boundaries – and we are pleased to see that it has – we could consider a return to play."

Even though some activities are restarting on Saturday, August 29, director of student activities Vincent Clarno says details like crowd sizes and guidelines for individual activities still need to be developed.

"Each activity brings about a different set of criteria and logistics," Clarno says. "So as we are opening it back up, each individual group will begin to meet with those respective departments and they’ll work out the details for bringing students back on to our school campuses, obviously in a safe way."

Clarno says they will not be implementing any testing protocol for athletes or coaches, other than asking everyone to perform a self-assessment before the activity. 

"There’s no mandate or requirement from the Ohio Department of Health or from the Governor’s office that says you have to have testing in place, and so what we will continue to rely on is self-assessment, and ask that each coach and everyone continue to do that part before they arrive at an individual practice or a contest," Clarno says. 
The district says it could suspend activities again if the pandemic worsens.

Columbus City Schools is set to begin classes on September 9. However, the district did not announce any changes to its plan to take all K-12 classes online through at least the end of October.

Meanwhile, Hilliard School District is switching to a hybrid learning schedule starting Monday, August 31, following a plan approved by the school board earlier this week.

Gabe Rosenberg joined WOSU in October 2016. As digital news editor, Gabe reports breaking news and edits all content for the WOSU website, as well as manages the station's social media accounts.