There will be no joy in Mudville this season, or at least on the ball diamonds of Belmond-Klemme.
On Thursday night, the Belmond-Klemme School Board announced that summer sports were suspended for 2020, due to concerns over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Wright County Public Health sent out a press release on Thursday announcing that the county had 52 confirmed cases of COVID-19. As of Friday afternoon, that number shot up to 85, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health website.
Based on the School Board's discussion, fall sports might be in danger, too.
"I understand that we may not have a football season, we may not have a lot of the fall sports, and we may not have a lot of the activities. Schools may be changed forever," board member Gary Berkland said. "I do realize that schools might be a very different environment for a very long time to come."
On social media, the reaction was swift.
"(Belmond-Klemme) is being called out not just from within the district, but all over," Belmond resident Eric Johnson said on Facebook. "Other districts are willing to let the student-athletes and parents sign waivers and take many precautions. I am sorry for the kids that are having to deal with this."
The announcement came just one day after Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds gave the go-ahead for summer sports to begin practicing on June 1. Hours after that announcement, the Iowa High School Athletic Association(IHSAA), and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) released a joint statement announcing that schools could start practices on June 1, with games scheduled to start on June 15.
In addition, the IHSAA and IGHSAU released a series of rules and restrictions that teams are required to follow, designed to keep players, coaches, umpires, and fans from contracting the virus, including disinfecting all equipment, taking temperatures, and requiring social distances on the field and in the dugout.
"I'm sure the State had medical personnel input before allowing softball/baseball," Belmond resident Bo Barrus said in a Facebook post. "I'm sure the athletic unions had medical personnel input. They obviously felt safe with the guidelines they put together, and our board shoots it down?"
On Friday, Belmond-Klemme Superintendent Dan Frazier cited the surge in Wright County's COVID-19 cases this week as the driving force behind the board's unanimous decision.
"We definitely understand the disappointment," Frazier said."These last three months have been fraught with disappointment and heartache. We feel very disappointed about all of these circumstances. This decision was spurred by the board, based on what is happening in our county at this time."
Frazier also said that with the rapidly changing situation surrounding the virus, there is no way to know right now whether football, volleyball, or cross country will begin in August.
"Things change so rapidly, I wouldn’t preclude any possibilities," Frazier said. "Things might be banned and come back later, things might be approved for participation at this time and be stopped later. It’s hard to say. There is a long ways between May and August."
Shane Lantz covers sports for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at Shane.Lantz@GlobeGazette.com, or by phone at 641-421-0526. Follow Shane on Twitter @ShaneMLantz.
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