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PRC athletics ready to handle COVID in spring semester

Pearl River Central’s athletic teams started the fall semester unsure how COVID-19 would affect their seasons, but now that the semester is coming to a close teams understand what it takes to play safely during a pandemic.

Athletic Director Chris Teal said organizers and participants in all programs are familiar now with sanitation protocols, social distancing and other guidelines in place to keep athletes safe.

Fall sport seasons have ended and the transition is underway to winter sports such as basketball.

There’s currently a limit on attendance for indoor athletic events with gyms only allowed to be at 25 percent capacity for basketball games.

PRC’s current ticketing strategy is allowing two tickets per participant, and then selling any leftovers to students and community members.

Teal said the limit on attendance is unfortunate, but a necessary precaution in order to keep playing during the pandemic.

“We’d like to fill up the place and we would (if there was no limit). People love to come watch us play basketball, but right now we’re having to turn them away. (However), it doesn’t bother me to turn them away because we are able to play. If we opened it up and then we couldn’t play that would be disappointing,” Teal said.

It took some time to get used to the COVID-19 protocols set forth by the state and Mississippi High School Activities Association, but now the athletes are used to the new routines.

Teal said the players are willing to do whatever it takes in order to keep competing, and it’s led to the students taking the guidelines to heart.

“The experience of high school athletics and being a high school student period, we want each kid to have the experience we had. If we have to do those things in order for us to play a game or walk the halls, we’re going to do it. I’ve been very pleased with our students and the way they’ve handled everything,” Teal said. All of the programs are wary of getting too comfortable following last year’s early cancellation of spring sports, including baseball and softball.

Right now the focus is making sure winter sports run smoothly, but having a full set of seasons this spring is a constant question moving into next semester.

“The main thing in the spring is that we do get to play a baseball and softball season because last year when that got cut that really hurt us,” Teal said.

The hope is that after going through the process for fall sports, programs can develop and get used to guidelines easier moving into winter and spring sports.

Those programs will have a semester’s worth of experience managing COVID-19, and they’ll use that time to make sure things run smoothly next semester.

“Everything has gone as intended. When we first started with the COVID guidelines it was kind of hectic, but now that we’ve all gone through (fall sports) we will follow all protocols and use common sense so we can get through it. We’ve been through it and we’re continuing to follow protocols,” Teal said.