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COVID-19 closures already affecting schedules

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    JCHS placed signage encouraging spectators to exercise caution against COVID-19 prior to last week’s softball season opener against Woodland. BRAD HARRISON/Staff

Not even two weeks into the fall sports season, the schedule shuffling has already begun for Jones County High School athletics.

Whether it’s by way of weather or adjustments necessitated by COVID-19, events have already been either delayed or altered.

The 2020 football season will no longer begin on Sept. 4 against Northeast-Macon after the Bibb County School District put athletic competition on hold last Thursday. That means that the Greyhounds’ next scheduled game is Sept. 11 against North Gwinnett. That said, JCHS athletic director Barry Veal says that there’s an effort ongoing to find an opponent for Sept. 4.

Jones County joins many others around the state scrambling for new opponents after other school systems – notably in Fulton, Dekalb and Rockdale counties – made the decision last week to postpone athletic events. Rockdale has postponed all fall sports until the second semester with Fulton pushing things back to at least September and Dekalb doing so to the end of September.

Newton County has also suspended sports indefinitely. As of Monday, ten school districts and roughly 67 teams had made decisions to result in not playing on Sept. 4., according to Georgia High School Football Daily.

Whoever the Greyhounds seasonopening opponent is at home, it’ll be the first contest inside the refurbished Greyhound Stadium, where improvements include a new playing surface.

“The tenth game is not as important as it being the first game. We don’t want it to back it up more and not let the community see this field,” Veal said. “Also, we want our kids to know we are doing everything in our power for them to play because the kids are doing everything in their power.”

In softball, the Lady Greyhounds home opener against Woodland got just three innings complete before being called due to rain. Although JCHS led 10-0, the game fell short of being halfway complete, and the entire game was set to be replayed Wednesday.

In volleyball, Thursday’s joint match against Mary Persons and ACE Charter was quickly moved to ACE after a positive test by a Mary Persons player last week that ceased all team activities through Aug. 24.

That, combined with the Bibb County School System’s ceasing of athletic competitions, impacts the Aug. 20 joint match against Baldwin at Mary Persons, Aug. 25, against Howard and Westside, and Aug. 27 against Howard and Central. It also means that, should Bibb County events remain on hold, that the first home match for JCHS will be Oct. 8 against ACE. There’s also an effort ongoing to find other opponents to be added to Jones County’s schedule.

“Our kids and all the kids I’ve seen all around middle Georgia have been great. You’ve seen a renewed focus on safety from the kids,” Veal said. “They know that unless they do their part, there’s a good chance of them not getting to play.”