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Parkway joins Rockwood in pursuing football outside St. Louis County

For a few days, Rockwood had the return to fall football all to itself. Superintendent Mark Miles announced, on Friday, Sept. 18, the district’s intent to play games outside the county. Parkway officially remained silent on the matter. So did the Metro Catholic Conference (MCC), which appears to be following the advice of its lawyers, who cautioned MCC schools to heed the advice of St. Louis County.

Then, this morning, County Executive Sam Page announced new guidelines on youth sports.

“In regards to youth sports, effective Monday (Sept. 28), DPH (Department of Public Health) is changing the guidelines to allow games in high-frequency of contact sports for children younger than 14 AND all children in middle school (with restrictions),” the county’s official statement read. “That means that in sports such as football, basketball, ice hockey and wrestling, competitive games will be permitted.

“DPH also will allow ALL students, including high school students of any age, to play competitive games in moderate-contact sports such as soccer, baseball, cheerleading, crew/rowing, dance team, fencing, floor hockey, field hockey, lacrosse and racquetball.  For all outdoor youth sports, (DPH) will allow two parents or spectators, per athlete, to attend games with an overall capacity of 50. This occupancy limit is not to separate parents or children, but to ensure limited crowding where COVID-19 can spread.”

“… high-contact games are still not permitted in high school. That includes sports such as football and basketball.”

– St. Louis County Department of Public Health

On the heels of that announcement, Parkway sent a note to parents of that district noting:

“This morning, the St. Louis County Health Department announced that moderate contact sports can begin competitions in St. Louis County. Therefore, we will begin competitions on September 28 for moderate contact sports – softball, volleyball, soccer, field hockey, cheer and dance.

“We agree youth sports are critical for the physical and mental health of our students. Football is quickly approaching the midpoint of the season. Therefore, to ensure our student-athletes will have opportunities to play and compete this year, Parkway will begin scheduling football games to be played outside of St. Louis County. The first Friday night football games will be scheduled for October 2.”

There’s no word yet on what teams in the Metro Catholic Conference will be doing. Locally, those schools include CBC, De Smet Jesuit and Chaminade.

John Burroughs, MICDS, Principia, Priory and Westminster Christian Academy play in the Metro League, which, like the MCC, has not announced plans to play outside St. Louis County.

The DPH release specified that the county is “currently speaking with athletic directors representing public and private conferences as well as medical professionals, youth and club sports officials and sports parents and enthusiasts, who are providing us additional feedback.”

The county said its goal is to safely bring back high-contact sports among high school students. But that at this time “high-contact games are still not permitted in high school. That includes sports such as football and basketball.”

“We are actively working on a path forward that may include competitive games in those sports at some point this fall,” the release states. “If the number of positive cases continues to decrease, testing numbers increase and other indicators improve among adolescents in the community at large, we can expect that in the next two or three weeks, that high-contact sports at the high school level can be reevaluated.”

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