Youth sports on hold in some Kansas communities amid pandemic

Story updated at 1:38 p.m. Wednesday

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Youth sports are on hold in some Kansas communities because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Although the Kansas State High School Athletic Association has decided not to cancel fall activities, the Kansas City, Kansas, school board voted Tuesday to opt out, The Kansas City Star reported. Fall sports in Kansas include football, volleyball, cross country, girls tennis and boys soccer.

The decision will let the district evaluate the status of winter sports at a later date as it continues to monitor cases of COVID-19.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Wednesday reported 817 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 since Monday for a total of 32,547, and eight more deaths for a total of 395. The number of infections is believed to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and experts believe people can have the virus without feeling sick.

Meanwhile, the City of Wichita decided Monday to postpone its youth football season until the spring, The Wichita Eagle reported.

Troy Houtman, Wichita’s parks and recreation director, said the decision only affects parks and recreation programs. About 1,800 youths participate each season. It doesn’t affect high school and middle school sports.

“We talked about how we could isolate folks and how we could reduce the amount of numbers coming to the games, making sure everyone is wearing masks and other precautions,” Houtman said. “But it became more and more apparent that it was going to be really difficult to adhere to all of those requirements, and if we did, that would also be going against the county’s recommendation.”

The City of Wichita wrestled with this decision for months, Houtman said. The city even looked into purchasing face shields for all youth football players at a cost of about $25,000. With too many unknowns, moving the season to the spring made the most sense, he said.

Wichita’s City Council on Tuesday voted to continue requiring masks for employees and patrons of most public-facing businesses and indoor gatherings until Sept. 8.

The council took action after a report from Fire Chief Tammy Snow, who said the numbers show that the positive test rate for coronavirus infection began declining almost as soon as the city passed the ordinance five weeks ago.


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