Updated: Decatur cancels football games, other sports through Sept. 25

High school football
High school football

Credit: For the AJC

Credit: For the AJC

Citing COVID-19 concerns, Decatur High announced Tuesday the canceling of three September football games and all in-person sports and extracurricular activities until Sept. 25.

The canceled football games are Sept. 4 vs. Dunwoody, Sept. 11 vs. Wesleyan and Sept. 18 vs. Banneker. Those are non-region games. Decatur competes in Region 5-5A.

Decatur schools are set to open with virtual learning beginning Aug. 17, but in-person sports practices had been allowed since June.

‘‘I just hate it for the students who have had so much stripped from them through no fault of their own,’’ Decatur athletic director Rodney Thomas said. “The relationships and bonds built through extracurriculars are priceless. I am also sad for my coaches who have gone above and beyond adhering to the safety protocols and selflessly giving of themselves. However, we still do not have a grip on this virus. No matter how much we try to mitigate its effect, it is still a grave threat.‘'

Decatur made its parents and students aware through a newsletter sent Tuesday that quoted City of Decatur Schools superintendent David Dude.

“Athletics, activities, and clubs will be moving to the virtual environment,” Dude said in his message. “We will be working with coaches and activity sponsors to brainstorm ways to continue building teams and communities through online activities. We are well aware of the mental health benefits of such interactions, especially when they can be done in person, and do not make this decision lightly.”

Dude’s comments also were critical of government officials.

“It is unfortunate, but we are unable to consistently rely on data and recommendations we receive from government institutions charged with public health because those data and recommendations are being heavily influenced by politics rather than science,” Dude said. “We will continue doing our best to distill the often conflicting information provided to us while we attempt to balance the risks of continuing virtually with the risks of meeting in person.”

Decatur is the third GHSA school to cancel games over COVID-19 concerns. Riverside Military in May and Twiggs County in July canceled their entire seasons.

Several schools, including Tucker and Lakeside in DeKalb County, have suspended and restarted sports practices since the GHSA allowed teams to begin sports conditioning in June, and at least a dozen remain closed this week, the first time that football teams have been allowed to practice in pads.

The Georgia High School Association moved the start of the football regular season back to the week of Sept. 4 last month.

More changes could come soon as the GHSA’s sports-medicine advisory council has its weekly meeting Wednesday. On Friday, Georgia Department of Public Health commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey expressed concern to the state’s schools superintendents over the safety of football, chorus, band and competitive cheerleading this fall.

Decatur will re-evaluate its policy on extra-curricular activities Sept. 18, the newsletter said.

About the Author

In Other News