COVID-19 pandemic keeps debate over Pennsylvania student athletics alive

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DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — More than a week after Gov. Tom Wolf announced his recommendation that youth sports be put on ice until next year, the conversation continues.

Wolf says it's just a recommendation, but he thinks the priority has to be getting kids in school — "and anytime we do something that interferes with that, we’re doing all of us, we’re doing all of Pennsylvania, a disservice.”

Dr. David Damsker, director of the Bucks County Health Department, says he’s reviewed youth sports safety plans and says they’re working hard to keep kids and coaches as safe as possible.

“We’ve seen very, very little spread on a team — I think maybe one case total of spread on a team," Damsker said.

He says they’ve seen people associated with youth sports get the virus, but from other circumstances, like a trip down the Shore or from a household contact.

Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh couldn’t say whether or not there’d been any spread for contact through youth sports, but she says there’s a bigger-picture issue.

“We had to put whole teams into quarantine because they were not able to maintain social distancing while they were playing," she said. "Imagine the school year had started and now we’re putting entire teams into quarantine because of that.”

Arkoosh says she believes it’s safe to do drills and conditioning, but she says playing games leads to high rates of exposure to large numbers of people.

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association board will meet next Friday to discuss fall sports. 

They say they’ve taken a measured approach to creating their Return to Competition Guidelines and understand what postponing fall sports would mean to their 350,000 student athletes.