COVID concerns remain as high school sports set to kick off soon

Piedmont Triad News

(WGHP) — Sports stopped during the COVID crisis. As seasons get ready to kick off again in a few weeks, many people are wondering: Is it safe with the delta danger?

Whether it’s football, soccer, cheerleading or marching band.

It’s coming down to two main points: masks and frequent testing, and depending on a child’s age, a vaccine could be an extra layer of protection.

“Over half of the within-school transmission in high school are within high school athletics,” said Dr. Daniel Benjamin Jr., from Duke University Health.

One thing parents, coaches, and athletes need to keep in mind: the virus spreads quickly among student-athletes, especially in contact sports.

“Athletes could be safe if they are vaccinated. A safe option for families is frequent testing a couple of times a week, as outlined by the CDC,” Benjamin said. “And with proof of vaccination, a school district could reasonably safe, ‘OK, you don’t have to wear a mask.”

But right now, that’s not likely to happen.

“For grades 7-12, the vaccination rates in the vast majority of counties are well below 50 percent, so clearly that’s not a viable solution,” Benjamin said. “Prevention of transmission does promote masking universally.”

Some school districts in the state are not making masks mandatory. Instead, they’re making them optional.

“If we would just commit to this, we could get the plateau and get to the day we can take masks off,” said Robin Gurwitch, a researcher with Duke University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

That means cases in and out of the classrooms could start to spike.

“If you want to prevent COVID transmission in your community or at your schools, then it’s going to be masking until we have sufficiently high vaccination,” Benjamin said.

The doctors stressed sports and the arts can be done safely and should be.

Spectators should also feel comfortable enough to be in the stands, but they urge everyone to social distance and wear masks.

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