MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) – Over a dozen student-athletes who were recently in Myrtle Beach have since tested positive for COVID-19, according to the head of the South Carolina High School League.
During a virtual press briefing on Thursday, SCHSL Commissioner Jerome Singleton said he had been informed that athletes from three different schools had gathered in Myrtle Beach since Phase One of athletic training had begun.
Singleton said the student-athletes had their own housing, but were all hanging out together. He added that when they left, over 20 of them had contracted the novel coronavirus.
The commissioner noted that he’s been informed of a few schools across the state that have had student-athletes come down with COVID-19 since the start of Phase One. He added that as soon as that occurs, they go into quarantine.
“We don’t know where it came from, whether it came out of the experience of working out at the school or away from the school,” Singleton said.
The commissioner stressed that if high school athletics are to resume in the fall, “we’ve got to do our part.”
“It’s got to be about more than what occurs at those venues. It has to be the total package. Everybody’s got to get involved,” Singleton said.
During a executive committee meeting, the SCHSL also discussed plans for the fall sports season.
The league is currently in phase one, which allows group workouts.
Singleton said due to the large increase in COVID-19 cases across the state, they are considering a phase 1.5 instead of jumping to phase 2.
While they are still planning this phase, Singleton said they hope to allow groups to use balls and other equipment during workouts.
Singleton said at this point there is no set timeline for when they will move on from phase one and there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the fall sports season.
“There’s still a lot of challenges attached to this and we’re going to look at it but it’s a moving target. I wish I had a definitive answer on any of these things but what I tell you today may be obsolete tomorrow,” said Singleton.
Singleton told the executive committee that DHEC has sent out guidelines to each school district explaining if they are a low, medium, or high risk for the coronavirus.
Class AAA representative Ray Cooper said guidelines impacting in-person learning should also apply to sports programs.
Cooper believes just having recommendations instead of requirements could put at-risk school districts in a bad position.
“If DHEC says your number of cases puts you in a high-risk community and you can’t be in school, how can it still be okay and safe to put athletes on the field, and I don’t know if that’s something we can do as a league to put some guidelines out that are pretty firm and concrete,” said Cooper.
After a lengthy discussion, the committee voted to make all guidelines mandatory, and if broken, schools will face penalties.