Shawnee Mission schools to play winter sports, despite health department’s recommendation

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Shawnee Mission School district plans to move ahead with winter sports, despite the county health department advising against it.

In a letter sent to parents Friday, Superintendent Mike Fulton said that moving ahead with winter sports would come with several caveats.

“After careful consideration, and with specific mitigating factors in place to limit the transmission of COVID-19, we have made the decision to move forward with high school winter activities and athletics” Fulton’s letter read.

“These considerations include mask wearing, appropriate social distancing, cleaning and sanitation requirements, limits on crowd attendance specific to each activity and sport, and other safety protocols.”

Fulton said more information would be provided at a later date.

Earlier this week, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment recommended that schools cancel winter sports due to the risk posed by COVID-19.

“Indoor environment really presents a higher level of risk because the ventilation is not as good, especially if you pack the place up with spectators during sports and with sports, athletes in close proximity with heavy breathing,” said Dr. Sanmi Areola, director of the Johnson County Department of Health & Environment.

Areola acknowledged that, despite his warnings, some school districts would allow youth sports to continue. In that case, he advised that they take a number of safety precautions.

“If you decide to proceed with basketball for example then take steps to reduce the risk. One is not allowing spectators and if you must allow spectators, keep it to the immediate family to limit the size,” Areola said.

In addition to SMSD, Olathe and Blue Valley are planning to allow winter sports to continue with precautions.

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