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Education

CMS Sports, Extracurricular Activities Allowed To Resume After 3-Week Pause

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Jonathan Chng / Unsplash
CMS high school swimmers and divers qualified for postseason regional competition can participate in those events

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will allow high school sports and many extracurricular activities to resume after all were put on pause for three weeks following a county health directive.

That directive from Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris expires Feb. 2.

CMS announced Wednesday that high school swimmers and divers who qualified for postseason regional competitions can participate in those events scheduled to begin Feb. 5.

Superintendent Earnest Winston announced Jan. 14 that he was putting all sports and extracurricular activities on hold for a month because of Harris' directive and concerns about spreading COVID-19. He granted an exception for cross country and volleyball teams that had already begun playoffs, but offered no such break for aquatic sports.

"A lot of us cried when we found out, you know, ‘cause it’s what we’ve put our all into for years and it’s our passion," said Hopewell High diver Emily Hurd, a senior. "It’s, you know, something that’s been relatively normal in this crazy time and it’s just heartbreaking to not get to do something you love."

Parents and community members bombarded CMS leaders with pleas to let the swimmers and divers compete. At Tuesday night's school board meeting, board member Rhonda Cheek urged Winston to consider doing just that.

About 12 hours later, Winston announced that and other changes:

Basketball, cheerleading, women's and men's lacrosse, men's soccer and football can resume competition and practice Feb. 8.

Out-of-season sports must wait until Feb. 15 to resume workouts.

After-school high school activities such as music, dance and theater can begin Feb. 8, but students need parent permission to participate. Decisions on live/virtual performances will be made later, CMS said in a news release.

Activities such as speech and debate remain under evaluation, CMS said.

"The COVID pandemic has caused us to make many difficult decisions this school year, and pausing athletics and delaying the start of many arts and other enrichment programs are among the most painstaking,” Winston said in a news release. “Extracurricular programs are vital to the social and emotional health of our students. With confidence that community conditions have improved, we are pleased to resume athletic practices and competition and to begin offering arts students the opportunity to participate in after-school activities.”

The directive Harris issued on Jan. 12 advocated for utilizing “full-virtual options for work, school and other activity where in-person activity is not required.” It's not legally binding, but she urged compliance based on surging COVID-19 in the community. In the last few days, numbers have begun edging down.

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