Last Monday night, we were all caught off guard when the Halifax County School Board voted to allow extracurricular activities to return.

That includes student athletes and coaches being able to get together and hold workouts for the first time since March.

It is crazy to think we have gone from March to October with no high school, or middle school games, practices or workouts.

While the decision to allow the athletes to return was made, a start date is still up in the air. With first practice for basketball being Dec. 7, we are closing in on two months before the official start of the Virginia High School League’s return to play.

While many schools around the state have already returned to workouts, Halifax has been stuck waiting and wondering when or if they would get back.

Halifax County High School principal Michael Lewis and athletic director Allen Lawter submitted a plan to the VHSL in August with an overview of how the school would conduct workouts to adhere to COVID-19 protocols. I touched on what is in that plan in Wednesday’s paper, so if you haven’t seen it yet please go back and check that out.

The overview they submitted was required in the summer by the VHSL and Virginia Department of Education in order for schools to participate in the workouts. While the VHSL officially allowed the return to workouts on July 1, the plans had to be drawn up, and each school district had to approve the return before workouts resumed.

Now that the school board has approved Halifax student athletes to return, we wait to see when that will happen and in what capacity.

We know there will be no contact between players no matter the sport; most workouts will consist of small groups that work on conditioning and individual workouts until more guidance is given. There lies another issue that not just Halifax, but all schools in the state, are having to deal with. There is no guidance past the phase we are in now, which doesn’t allow for contact in sports. With the first official games beginning in a little over two months, when is the VHSL or the governor going to tell these schools how to proceed?

I get it, COVID-19 is something that none of us were prepared for and now everyone is stuck between making a decision that will more than likely upset half of the population and make the other half happy. It is almost a lose-lose situation. I don’t envy anyone who is having to make these decisions. Covering the last three school board meetings before last Monday, one thing I heard said multiple times by multiple members was that they shouldn’t be tasked with these tough decisions. They are not doctors, they do not have a medical background, and they do not get the information that others in those fields get. It is an incredibly hard decision to make and no matter what the final decision is, there will be people upset.

The schools around the state are finalizing schedules for each sport now, and we should start getting those schedules shortly. I know it may not seem like a lot, but once those schedules are finalized and out that means we are that much closer to sports.

While they will look much different, and fans may not even be able to attend, we should all be excited that these student athletes are going to be able to get back to doing what they love. It has been almost seven months since the last official high school game was played in Virginia and for young kids that can seem like an eternity.

Whether you agree or disagree with the decision by the school board, I think we can all agree that getting these kids back into a controlled environment doing what they love is imperative for their success in and out of school.

Until next time.

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