It was thought that at Monday evening’s meeting of the Halifax County School Board that high school sports would officially be back, but hours before the meeting started Superintendent of Halifax County Public Schools Dr. Mark Lineburg closed all schools down until at least Dec. 7. Lineburg cited the rise in COVID-19 cases that have put Halifax County into the “highest risk phase” as the reasoning. Personally I believe this is the right move to try and get ahead of the rising case numbers in the county and hope that after the Thanksgiving holiday things will begin to trend downward.

The Dec. 7 date of return is approaching and I’m hopeful that the school system will return to phase two where in-person instruction will be available for those students who have been allowed to return to schools as well as the high school sports season.

Dec. 7 is also the date that the Virginia High School League has officially said that practice can begin for winter sports. Dec. 21 is when schools will begin their season. As long as the schools reopen by that date, winter sports in Halifax will be allowed to compete.

The rise in COVID-19 numbers not just in Halifax County but also around the country is alarming. The numbers we are seeing are much more than the ones we saw in the first wave that shut everything down in early spring. The good news is there are two vaccines that are getting ready be submitted for FDA approval and we could see people begin to receive the vaccine in the coming weeks. The bad news is that there will only be a limited supply of the vaccine until sometime next year when there is expected to be enough for everyone that wants it. At a 95% effective rate, the vaccine has surpassed all expectations that experts had expected.

What this means for high school sports remains to be seen. Once again we are in a holding pattern. It feels like we have been holding for a long time and every time we think that this is the moment we officially have sports back, it gets derailed by something. It has been tough on the players, coaches and administrators as the days, weeks and months have gone by. I know because I have talked to them quite regularly through text, phone calls or in person and we all keep looking for something to give us hope that these boys and girls will have the chance to play their season, some for the last time.

I am not advocating for anyone to play in an unsafe environment, that is the last thing I am saying. I am saying that the amount of effort that has been put into giving them a chance to play makes me feel confident that everyone involved will be safe.

I wish I could go back and remember the amount of times throughout this pandemic where I felt that things were getting back to normal only to have something get in the way and things remain the same. What I initially thought would be a couple of weeks of inconvenience and uncertainty has turned into over half of a year. As I mentioned on Wednesday, if the sports season kicks off as planned on Dec. 21 it will have been 284 days since the last VHSL sanctioned event in the state occurred.

That number still baffles me and I have lived through each one of those days trying to figure out the next move and letting you, the reader know what is happening. Press releases, meetings, meetings and more meetings. It never seemed to end, but we never got real answers because there was so much uncertainty.

Now here we are on the precipice of going back. Will it happen? Only time will tell. If one thing is for certain it is that nothing is certain.

Until next time.

Johnathan Kirland is a sports writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him jkirkland@gazettevirginian.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnathanK_GV