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Increase in COVID-19 cases leads to change in high school sports plan

“...but there’s been just a recent outbreak across St. Louis County with more positive tests. With more hospitalizations”

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. —

This week, many high school sports teams across St. Louis began summer workouts under Phase 2 of a return-to-play plan. But teams looking to take the next step forward will now have to wait a little while longer before doing so.

At least 31 public schools across the St. Louis Suburban Conference were also preparing to enter Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan designed by the St. Louis Sports Medicine COVID-19 Task Force. 

But Parkway School District director of athletics and activities, Mike Roth, said that timeline shifted on Wednesday afternoon.

“We were hoping to move into Phase 3 next week, which would’ve been on Monday,” Roth said. “But there’s been just a recent outbreak across St. Louis County with more positive tests. With more hospitalizations.”

Phase 2 was approved by the task force on June 29, which allows teams to conduct practices through contact drills in small, consistent groups.

Phase 3 would permit full team practices, regular scrimmages, games, and the use of equipment. 

“If you think about football, you’ve got not only your helmet and shoulder pads, but your pads and pants and everything,” Roth said. “It’s a gradual orientation of getting kids equipped and used to using the equipment.”

Roth said the most important thing that teams can do during this time is take current protocols seriously to ensure safety moving forward.

“Even when our student athletes arrive for their screening prior to practice, they’re wearing a face covering or a mask,” Roth said. “During practices, our coaches at Parkway will be wearing masks. Even at the end of practice we don’t come together. We keep our team groups in different areas on the field.”

Roth said coaches and athletes are being encouraged to also monitor what they do outside of workouts during this time, to ensure they are practicing recommended safety protocol.

The task force said it will re-evaluate gating criteria for Phase 3 on July 21. If criteria is approved, then teams will be able to begin Phase 3 on July 26.

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