Throughout the summer, Orangeburg County School District’s administration and Board of Trustees have held strong to their decision to delay athletic conditioning and practice for student-athletes amidst continued coronavirus concerns.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes, their adult coaches, and community must come before all else,” OCSD superintendent Dr. Shawn Foster said.
The South Carolina High School League, South Carolina high school sports governing body, made the decision to officially begin fall sports seasons for volleyball and cross country on Monday, August 24 (girls’ tennis officially began August 17).
“With athletics officially beginning throughout the state on Monday, and many student-athletes hopeful for college scholarships that may result from this season, we had a really tough call to make,” Foster said.
Following a late Thursday evening virtual meeting with OCSD athletic directors, coaches, principals, and in consultation with district and school administrators, the district made the decision to allow student-athletes and coaches who were ready to return to play to do so under very stringent health and safety guidelines.
Teams in schools and districts throughout the state have been conditioning with student athletes throughout the summer as part of the SCHSL phased-in approach. OCSD opted to err on the side of caution, keeping its stand for health and safety above all else.
Orangeburg is one of the last districts in the state to make the difficult decision to allow athletic teams to begin conditioning and practice. OCSD’s decision to begin practicing, utilizing all health and safety protocols set forth by the SCHSL, CDC and DHEC, as well as the school district, is specific to only sports teams that have officially started their season.
Any sport that has not officially started their season will be participating in a phased-in approach with conditioning only being approved at this time. The SCHSL plans to officially begin the football season on September 8.
“Anyone who does not feel safe will be respected in their decision,” said Hayward Jean, OCSD student services director. "The student-athlete will be permitted to try out, practice and condition at any point in the season when they are comfortable in doing so.”
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