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Cincinnati Public Schools gives the green light on plan for athletics to resume this week

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Posted at 11:32 PM, Sep 14, 2020

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education decided Monday night to allow non-contact sports to start full competition this week while contact sports can return to intra-district games.

Contact sports can return to full competition the week of Sept. 21, according to the district.

Non-contact sports were previously defined by the Ohio governor's office this summer as golf, tennis, volleyball and cross country. Football and soccer are considered contact sports.

Cincinnati Public Schools football teams started to schedule their games on Tuesday morning.

Walnut Hills is scheduled to play at Withrow at 7 p.m. Friday (Sept. 18), according to Walnut Hills athletic director Stephen Ellison. The Eagles are also scheduled to play at Middletown Sept. 25.

Walnut Hills coach Gerry Beauchamp said the Eagles play at West Clermont Oct. 2 before the postseason begins.

Hughes coach Chris Mobley said the Big Red is scheduled to play Western Hills at 4:30 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 19) at Stargel Stadium.

A decision regarding spectators will be forthcoming, according to the district.

The board held a meeting Monday night that was nearly 4 1/2 hours as it discussed the next steps for educating an estimated 36,283 students within the district.

Distance learning will continue for the time being as the board plans to meet Sept. 21 to re-examine the health data of the community taking the Labor Day holiday into consideration.

"During the meeting on September 21, a decision will be made about continuing with distance learning or shifting to a model that includes in-person learning using a phased-in approach beginning September 28," CPS spokesperson Frances Russ said.

Athletics had been paused since Aug. 3 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CPS student-athletes were able to practice at their home schools until the COVID-19 pandemic data around the district, city and county was evaluated Monday night.

At nearly 10:40 p.m. Monday, athletics was discussed by the board after data presentations and more than 50 speakers from the public hearing participated within the first four hours of the meeting.

The board did not take a formal vote but multiple board members were heard on a Zoom call with an affirmative response.

"'Let's play ball!'" one board member said.

Board president Carolyn Jones recommended that CPS superintendent Laura Mitchell work with CPS athletics manager Josh Hardin on "reasonable accomodations" for spectator attendance and how to adhere to safety protocols.

"Regarding athletics, this week, non-contact sports can return to full competition and contact sports can return to intra-district games," Russ said in a statement. "Next week, contact sports can return to full competition. A decision regarding spectators will be forthcoming."

RELATED: Join the Cincinnati area high school sports Facebook group

This is the fourth week of the Ohio high school football season. CPS football teams are eligible to play this week but must play teams within their own district until next week.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association said all eligible football teams are able to make the postseason this season. That is the first occurrence since the playoffs started in 1972.

There are no minimum number of games required for making the postseason.

The deadline for Ohio high school football teams to opt in for the postseason is Thursday. New regions will be drawn Friday.

Schools eliminated from the OHSAA playoffs or that choose not to enter the OHSAA playoffs will have the option to schedule additional regular-season contests through Nov. 14, with a maximum of 10 regular-season contests permitted.