Mineral County to resume sports conditioning ... with caution

Staff Writer
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Keyser football's Gavin Root lifts weights during June conditioning.
Tribune photo by Chapin Jewell

By Chapin Jewell

Tribune Correspondent

On Thursday, Aug. 6, Mineral County superintendent of schools Troy Ravenscroft, gave the go-ahead for Frankfort and Keyser high schools to resume extra-curricular activities on Monday, Aug. 10.

This announcement follows Ravenscroft’s July 21 announcement that, “Exercising an abundance of caution, we are pausing all athletic and extracurricular activities countywide. All organized activities, conditioning programs, gyms, and weight rooms will be closed effective immediately through Aug. 7. During the week of Aug. 3, we will reevaluate current conditions and make determinations about future activities.”

The issue has indeed been re-evaluated, and the green light has been given to resume activities, with restrictions.

As part of the Aug. 6 announcement, Ravenscroft made clear that athletic directors and coaches would share “specific guidance” with students on Friday, Aug. 7.  Ravenscroft ended the social media directive with a reminder that, “Adherence to safety guidelines is vital, while on the field AND away from it.”

The approval to resume extra-curricular activities Monday, Aug. 10, applies only to conditioning for fall sports, band, and Miss Falcon and Keyser Athletic Queen fundraising.  Restrictions still remain on “fundraising which results in gatherings,” however.

With respect to the resumption of activities for fall sports, and at this time it is fall sports only, activities can begin but only in accordance with phase one guidelines.  Phase one guidelines are the original guidelines that allowed for the very beginnings of the resumption of activities back in June, and focus only on strength and conditioning activities.

Guidance has in fact been given to coaches and subsequently to student-athletes, with a strong emphasis that social distancing, masks, and other safety measures will be strictly enforced, no exceptions.  

An example of what has been sent to coaches at Frankfort follows:

“We are in a 1:10 ratio of coach to athletes. This means that you can only have 10 kids present a at a time. If you have more than 10 kids on the team and you are the only coach, you have to stagger their arrival. Outdoor only. No weight room. If students are six feet apart, or actively conditioning, they do not need masks. If standing around, especially in groups, wear a mask.  Coaches must wear a mask at all times, unless they are running with the kids.”

Additional guidance sent includes the following, “A coach may work with more than one group (because they will be wearing masks). You may have more than one coach working with a group, still limited to 10 students. You must stress to the kids that they cannot congregate during down time, or when they arrive or leave. You may use a ball, but no other equipment.  You may use your flex days and have up to 10-hour sessions.”

An example of what has been communicated to football coaches and players at Keyser follows:

“All coaches will be required to wear a mask at all times. Student-athletes will be required to wear a mask from the moment they step out of their car or are dropped off until they are actually conditioning or performing drills. All activities will be conducted outdoors. We will be resuming activities in phase 1 guidelines. Social distancing protocol will be enforced. Student-athletes will have to wear masks in between drills, transitioning from any area to another, and after the session is over as they walk to their vehicle to leave.”

The directives are clear and both schools, as always, have been adamant with coaches and players alike that all rules are to be followed. It’s also been made clear that there should be every expectation that all activities will closely be monitored by the school, by the board and by the Health Department.

The incentive is there to follow the guidelines, as it is likely the fate of fall sports in West Virginia, and Mineral County specifically will be directly linked to everyone’s adherence to the rules and the hopeful limiting of any future COVID-19 outbreaks. There has even been the additional stressing that student-athletes and coaches need to adhere to safety protocols when away from the field.

Coaches and student athletes, the ball, as they say, is in your court.  

Frankfort soccer's Aiden Adams navigates obstacles during June conditioning.
Tribune photo by Chapin Jewell