ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – There’s big news about returning to school and sports in St. Louis County.
St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page announced an easing of COVID-19 restrictions on Wednesday.
The new county health department recommendations include: encouraging a return to “in-person” learning through middle school; allowing high contact sports like football, basketball, and ice hockey through middle schools; and allowing moderate contact sports like soccer, volleyball, and lacrosse for all schools, including high schools.
The announcements come 10 days after parents and players filled the street in protest outside Page’s office.
The recommendations were based on data, he said.
The COVID-19 infection rate among those aged 15 to 19 in St. Louis County fell by more than half in the past two weeks: from 20 percent to 7.4 percent.
But the county is not lifting restrictions for high-contact sports like football and hockey for high schools.
So, large districts like Parkway and Lindbergh, plus private schools like DeSmet, are joining Rockwood Schools in skirting Page’s recommendations and playing football in neighboring counties.
“You’re only in high school once…we feel we can keep our student athletes safe. Most importantly, we’re trying to give our student athletes a sense of normalcy. Their world, our world, has been turned upside down since last March,” said Mike Roth, athletic director for Parkway Schools.
Unlike football, ice hockey programs are having trouble finding places to play outside of St. Louis County.
A group of hockey parents has organized under the #LetThemPlay movement and is looking at possible legal action.
Two parents per athlete can attend events up with a maximum of 50 but only at outdoor events, Page said.
Youth ice hockey parents were concerned about having to drop their kids at the door for games and practices.
Large districts like Hazelwood and Pattonville have moved football back to the spring. Webster schools will follow the health department recommendations.