COVID issues affect Frankfort athletics
By Chapin Jewell
SHORT GAP - With the exception of positive COVID tests over the summer that shut down all athletic conditioning activities in Mineral County, for the most part, in our little corner of the world, from a sports perspective, things have gone pretty well.
We were able to see to completion an entire golf season, in fact, one of our own, the Keyser Golden Tornado, advanced all the way to the state championship tournament.
We were able to see to completion an entire soccer season, with the boys’ and girls’ teams from both Keyser and Frankfort advancing to play, but ultimately fall in the playoffs in Fairmont.
Once today’s state championship cross country races are finished, we will have seen to completion an entire cross-country season, in fact, we are fortunate to have the Frankfort boys’ team and individual runners from Keyser and Frankfort running in those races.
We have also at least seen the completion of the Potomac Valley Conference cheerleading championships, with regional and state competition perhaps still in the pipeline.
Until news broke this week of positive COVID tests in the Frankfort area schools, Mineral County schools, with a few exceptions, have been relatively unscathed with respect to the COVID epidemic and athletics.
All that, however, has changed.
What we know for certain is that the Frankfort/Oak Glen football game scheduled originally for last night was cancelled with no provision for a make-up date.
We also know that to the disappointment of many, the Frankfort boys’ cross country team will race today without a key member of the team, the result of contact tracing and subsequent quarantine.
We also know that COVID-related contact tracing and quarantine have put an end to Frankfort’s volleyball season, with the Falcons unable to participate in the sectional playoffs.
On Wednesday, Oct. 28, news came via a media advisory from the Mineral County Board of Education stating, “Mineral County Schools and the Mineral County Health Department have received confirmation of three individuals testing positive for COVID-19 in the Frankfort District - one itinerant employee and two students at Frankfort High School.
“Exercising an abundance of caution, and to ensure comprehensive contact tracing and identification of impacted staff and students, all schools in the Frankfort District will be closed Thursday, Oct. 29,” the notice read. As a result of the school closure, all extra-curricular activities in the Frankfort District were cancelled as well.
The day after the first release came another notice detailing that two additional students had tested positive for COVID-19, one at Frankfort High School and the other at Frankfort Middle School. Further, in addition to schools being closed on Friday, Oct. 30, all extracurricular activities in the Frankfort District, to include the Frankfort/Oak Glen home football game, were cancelled.
In addition to questions generated by the cancellation of the football game, superintendent Troy Ravenscroft felt compelled to issue the following statement, clarifying and explaining the reasons for not just the cancellation of the game but also as to why the game would not be rescheduled. Mr. Ravenscroft’s statement via social media was as follows:
“10.29.20 Update regarding the FHS vs. Oak Glen game. I don’t normally venture into athletic scheduling discussions, but COVID has changed all the rules.
“The game will not be rescheduled Saturday for several reasons— all related to health & safety. (And courtesy to Oak Glen)
“After discussions with school admin, coaches, and health officials we agreed it would not be prudent to make contingency plans for a Saturday game.
“With current conditions in the Frankfort District, it would not be wise of us to host a large gathering and potentially make health conditions worse/negatively impact future weeks.
“Additionally, the FHS team has not practiced since Tuesday. In contact sports such as football, this is a safety concern. Without a doubt, it would increase the chance of injury to our student-athletes.
“Lastly, contact tracing takes time, typically an unknown amount of time. We would not want to keep an opponent (preparing for long-distance travel) in limbo up to the last minute.
“Now is a time for the community to be extra vigilant vs. COVID. We want our students back in school Monday and back to normal activities.”
Mr. Ravenscroft’s statement clarified the entire situation and shed a great deal of light into many of the ins and outs involved in COVID-19 related academic and extracurricular decision making.
In addition, on Wednesday, Ravenscroft, via social media, offered up advice for the community with respect to the desired attitude and approach that should be taken. That statement was as follows:
“If you’ve followed the press releases today, you’ve noticed an increase in cases in our county, possibly our worst day since COVID started. (I can’t confirm as I don’t have raw data)
“I’ve said it before: I don’t care what you think of COVID, it’s at (bare minimum) a numbers game.
“To win the ‘numbers game,’ we must keep our interactive circles small, avoid unnecessary contact, and follow CDC/DHHR guidelines.
“As you can imagine, it’s frustrating for our schools, our students, and athletes—because in every instance we have been the ‘effect’ and not the ‘cause.’ If you want kids in school/sports, please help by avoiding unnecessary contact, crowds, and following guidance.”
It would be wise for everyone to heed Mr. Ravenscroft’s advice, for the safety of our students, teachers, and community members, and if we desire to see the continuation of our in-person schooling, extra-curricular and athletic activities.