The prep football games planned for Putnam County teams this weekend won’t be happening after all, and neither will practices in any sport in Kanawha County for at least a little while.
The release of Wednesday’s COVID-19 color map set off a couple of major changes in Kanawha Valley prep sports. On that map, Putnam was orange with a seven-day rolling average of 21.76 new positive cases. Kanawha went red with an average of 25.02 new cases, just eclipsing the threshold to reach that designation.
For Putnam, that ultimately dashed any chance of prep sports being played for the rest of the week. On Tuesday, Gov. Jim Justice introduced a new color to the map, gold, that would allow schools to return to in-person learning and to sports competition. The map the state introduced Tuesday had Putnam among the gold counties, and Justice said those counties could immediately decide to return to in-person learning and playing games.
Coaches there got to work to schedule contests. Hurricane football would travel to Poca and Winfield would visit Buffalo if Putnam decided to return to in-person classes. However, Putnam’s jump on the map was so significant — the county had an average of 14.17 new cases just on Sunday — that county schools superintendent John Hudson announced Wednesday that Putnam would stick with remote learning for the rest of the week. That scrubbed any chance of sports happening.
“Please understand, it remains the goal of Putnam County Schools to have students enrolled in the 5-Day In-Person Learning Model return to school,” a message on Putnam County Schools’ Facebook page read. “However, we must follow guidance as directed from our trusted health officials.”
So Putnam schools and sports teams now must wait until Saturday evening when the West Virginia Department of Education releases its new map to see what the future holds for next week. Putnam coaches mentioned frustration that comes with breaking the news to their teams that they yet again were benched. And they wished the community would help their cause by taking the precautions necessary to reduce the spread of the virus.
“Just because you don’t like wearing a mask doesn’t mean you don’t wear a mask,” Poca football coach Seth Ramsey said. “It’s common-sense stuff, stuff you learn when you’re in kindergarten — wash your hands, put things back and all of that.”
Meanwhile, in Kanawha County where schools have yet to hold a contest outside of golf because of the county’s COVID map designation, the new red designation means even conditioning drills are prohibited. Those were allowed when the county was orange.