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SPS to start fall sports season

Suffolk Public Schools will move ahead with a fall sports season with its three high schools competing only against each other, the division announced Thursday.

The unusual move occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic will come with new incentives, though, including the official crowning of a “city champion” — with trophy and all.

“The school division fully understands the importance of developing well-rounded students who excel both in the classroom and athletics,” the letter from Superintendent Dr. John B. Gordon III stated. “We also understand that our students’ and staff’s safety is our priority while balancing the desire for socialization, competition, and overall school achievement.”

King’s Fork, Lakeland and Nansemond River’s competitions among each other will be in Virginia High School League athletics and activities and will be at the varsity level only. The final competition of the season will include the two programs with the best overall record, and that winner will be the city champion.

Football and competition cheer will begin on Feb. 8. Football will play a maximum of four games, and competition cheer will have a maximum of three contests.

Cross country, field hockey, golf and volleyball will begin practice on Feb. 15 and will have a maximum of six contests for cross country, 10 for field hockey, eight for golf and 12 for volleyball.

The division said a new schedule is in development.

The fall season will begin with no fans in the stands, but options are under review for a limited number of fans for events like Senior Night. The division also has purchased the Pixellot service to stream games and competitions for those who would like to watch. A monthly pass is $9.99, and an annual pass is $69.

All participants will have to complete a daily parent acknowledgement form, have their temperature checked upon arrival at school, and wear masks for select levels of competition. In addition, practice plans will be instituted to minimize the number of students who have contact with one another.

The division will be responsible for disinfecting equipment, washing game and practice uniforms and more, the letter stated.

Transportation hubs will be put in place throughout the city, and students must wear their masks on the bus.