Due to rising COVID-19 numbers in Mecklenburg County, the Board of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) on Friday announced school would stay virtual for the next three weeks to minimize the infection’s spread. This comes after the Mecklenburg County Health Department recommended schools go virtual for at least the next three weeks. As the pandemic has broken records this winter, about a year since the first reported COVID-19 case in the United States, shutdowns and restrictions have become more common across the country.
In addition to CMS schools delaying in-person learning, the superintendent has ordered all extra-curricular activities, including sports and club sports, to stop all practices and competitions until February 15th. The one exception is that programs currently in the playoff season in volleyball and cross-country are still allowed to compete (but not practice).
This full-stop is a tough blow to swim teams in the CMS system, who are now barred from conference meets (late January), regional championships (Feb. 4-6) and the NCHSAA State Championships (Feb. 10-13). Teams have been competing in the season since late November, and conference meets are a key qualifier for regional meets, which are the gateway to the state championships. Multiple affected teams were initially planning on hosting some of the conference meets, too.
Among the teams affected by this are William Amos Hough High School, Myers Park High School and Ardrey Kell High School. WA Hough’s girls were the 4A state runner-ups last year, and their boys finished fifth. WA Hough had several state champions last season, while Myers Park and Ardrey Kell have one individual state champion apiece returning.
Some high school swim programs have taken issue with an exception to the ‘no sports’ rule for volleyball and cross-country.
Over 3,200 people have signed a petition on Change.org to ask that swim programs in the CMS system be allowed to compete at conference, regionals and state championships. The petition cites the exceptions made for volleyball and cross-country, and says that lifting the temporary sports ban would “align CMS to the rest of the state of North Carolina, which has continued to support swimming and allow the completion of [the post-season].”
The petition also claims that swimming has “among the lowest Covid infection rates of ANY competitive sport and High School swimmers have among the highest GPA’s of any student-athletes nationally,” though it’s unclear what significance GPA has to this situation or what data they’re citing regarding infection rates.
CHANGE.ORG PETITION EXCERPT:
On January 14th, the Charlotte Mecklenburg School board made the difficult decision to cancel all extra-curricular activities due to concerns about the Covid infection rate in Mecklenburg county. Exceptions were made for sports that were already in their “playoffs”, which enable both indoor volleyball and cross-country to complete their state level competitions. Swimming, which was scheduled to begin it’s post-season on January 15th, was cancelled. We are asking that CMS high schools be allowed to complete their conference and regional swim meets and participate in the NCHSAA state meet. This would align CMS to the rest of the state of North Carolina, which has continued to support swimming and allow the completion of conference, regional and state NCHSAA meets.
Swimming has among the lowest Covid infection rates of ANY competitive sport and High School swimmers have among the highest GPA’s of any student-athletes nationally. We believe that it is in the best interests of CMS, the county and the state to support our outstanding high school swimmers and to allow them to finish their season.