‘Heart-wrenching’: East Jasper School District cancels all fall sports, activities

‘Heart-wrenching’: East Jasper School District cancels all fall sports, activities
Superintendent Nadene Arrington said district officials came to the “heart-wrenching conclusion” to cancel all fall sports and activities because of COVID-19. (Source: Josh Auzenne/WAFB-TV)

JASPER COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - The Friday night lights will stay dark in the East Jasper Consolidated School District this fall.

A statement from Superintendent Nadene Arrington said district officials came to the “heart-wrenching conclusion” to cancel all fall sports and activities because of COVID-19.

In the statement, Arrington said coronavirus has created a “particularly dangerous and devastating” situation for high school and college athletes and students involved in other activities.

Though East Jasper is the first school district in the Pine Belt to completely cancel football season, other district’s have had to respond to the spread of the virus.

Earlier this week, Seminary and Mount Olive suspended their football programs after players tested positive for COVID-19.

The Northeast Jones football team was ordered to quarantine for 14 days after three coaches tested positive for the virus.

You can read Arrington’s full statement below:

The East Jasper School District has officially cancelled our fall athletics and activities season. In a majority Board vote, this decision was made due to overwhelming concerns regarding the unmitigated, statewide spread of COVID-19 throughout our communities. For school/college athletics and activities, it has become particularly dangerous and devastating. Therefore, out of an abundance of caution regarding whether or not we would be able to protect our students’ and staffs’ lives and conduct a fall season both safely and successfully, we have arrived at this heart-wrenching conclusion.

To our student body, student athletes, band members, cheerleaders, staff, administrators, and entire East Jasper community, we did not make this decision lightly nor without understanding and valuing the inestimable importance of sports and extracurricular activities in our students’ lives, in the development of their character and leadership skills, in the promotion of their social and emotional well-being and to our community at large. Some believe that our decision was rash and without just cause; however, I beg to differ. Who among us wants to be the conveyor or chooser of life and death? Who among us relishes the position in which our decision alone could ultimately determine whether a child lives to succeed in college, the military, or the world of work or instead is interred in an early grave? No one, I submit, who possesses a pure heart and desires a clear conscience. Indeed, this truly is the “High Road,”—albeit a lonely and painful one.

The East Jasper School Board, administrators and staff, athletic/activity personnel, and I, Nadene Arrington, Superintendent, remain committed to serving and promoting both the academic and extracurricular interests of ALL of our students—including pursuing all potential college and scholarship opportunities. As such, our school board has approved for our athletic/activity staff to develop a “Continuance of Practicing, Conditioning, and Scholarship Promotion Plan” that will allow our students to continue to develop their skills and talents within a safe and controlled environment, under the watchful guidance of their coaches and directors, and in physical preparation for recruiting/scouting conversations and a possible spring season.

Further, it is our continued hope that an official spring sports and activities season will be scheduled and that all Mississippi school districts will be able to participate at that time. This hope, of course, is expressed along with the prayer that the COVID-19 pandemic will be either contained or eradicated with the discovery of safe, reliable vaccines and/or medicinal therapies.

Lastly, for every school district, superintendent, and athletic/activity program who at this time are grappling with these same challenging issues, we extend to you our unconditional support for we are truly walking in your shoes—and most of all, we wish you safety and continued protection in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

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