With Halifax County High School varsity winter sports teams back at practice — and a plan in place to have their season — the fate of middle school sports was brought into question during Monday night’s meeting of the Halifax County School Board.
ED-8 trustee Walter Potts Jr. asked to add middle school sports to the agenda because he had received several phone calls from parents of middle school athletes wondering when they were going to start.
ED-6 trustee and chairman Todd Moser also stated that he had calls as well from parents about the status of middle school sports.
Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg said that he decided to let varsity start practicing for a couple of weeks, and then they would start JV and middle school, taking it “one step at a time.”
Potts then asked Lineburg since the board had already voted to allow sports to return, why the middle school couldn’t go ahead and start sports, to which Lineburg added that he did not have a middle school schedule yet, and that they wanted to take a “cautious approach.”
The ED-8 trustee went on to explain that he believed someone had started a rumor that middle school sports were canceled.
“I want someone to clarify why middle school parents are calling me wanting to know why middle school sports were cut out,” Potts asked.
Lineburg said they have “talked about every scenario.”
“Have we talked about not having sports? Absolutely,” Lineburg said before adding, “we have also tried to find ways to not have to say no.”
When the numbers “blew up” Lineburg said he put a halt to sports, but now he is phasing them back in while “trying to be as healthy as we can be.”
Potts went on to say that some might think it is “trivial” (middle school sports) but he said that it isn’t trivial to parents of middle school athletes.
He went on to say the school system did not have “transparency on this,” and he faulted the middle school and its athletic director Justin Saunders for not addressing the board about their plans for sports.
Saunders was not in attendance Monday evening.
Moser then asked girl’s basketball and softball coach James Smith, who was in attendance, if he had received any information about when sports would start and their safety plans.
Smith stated that Saunders told him they would follow the same safety guidelines as the high school and that they would start in mid-to-late January.
Halifax County Middle School principal Dawn Miller also confirmed that the middle school would be following the same safety guidelines as the high school “whenever it is safe to resume.”
Miller also stated that Saunders was waiting to hear from other school divisions and decided to delay the start of sports because “at most we only have three schools to play so we have time to delay the schedule.”
ED-5 trustee Freddie Edmunds also commented saying it seemed like there was a “breakdown in communication” and added, “we cannot address something we have no knowledge of.”
Lineburg confirmed that sentiment, adding, “We have not done the best with middle school athletics.”