COVID-19 concerns put local sports on hold

It started with the NBA announcing the suspension of its regular season and continued with the NCAA cancelling all of its remaining national championship events — including March Madness — through the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.

Now concerns over the spread of COVID-19 will include an immediate halt to almost all athletic events in Cartersville and Bartow County.

Thursday evening, Bartow County School System and Cartersville City Schools announced two-week closures beginning Monday. Both districts will be open Friday, although official statements posted to each system's website stated student attendance will not be mandatory.

The school announcements followed Governor Brian Kemp’s recommendation to halt schools for two weeks in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus. Both Bartow County Schools and Cartersville City Schools currently plan to reopen Monday, March 30.

The next Georgia High School Association state tournaments for sports begin April 21 in soccer and tennis. Those in gymnastics, baseball, golf, lacrosse and track and field follow later that week. GHSA Executive Director Robin Hines told the Atlanta Journal Constitution Thursday, “If we reached the point to where we felt the evidence required us to recommend that we suspend all sports activities, we would do that.’’ That point came with Kemp’s declaration. Many other states have also shut down their championship events. Others have planned to hold events with restricted attendance. Hines sent letters to each GHSA member school Tuesday stating that the GHSA would support local schools’ decisions to cancel or postpone sporting contests. GHSA schools normally can be fined or forced to forfeit for failing to fulfill conditions of a game contract, but Hines said he would waive penalties if either participating school cited coronavirus as a concern. According to the CDC, Georgia has 31 confirmed or presumed positive tests for COVID-19, most in metro Atlanta. There has been one confirmed death. In addition to the suspension of high school events and extra-curricular activities, the Bartow-Gordon Middle School Athletic Association has suspended its sports schedule. The Bartow County Parks and Recreation Department has suspended its activities through the weekend and will re-evaluate at the beginning of next week. The City of Cartersville Parks and Recreation Department announced some suspensions through spring break — which is April 6-10. Little League International has also announced a suspension of play. LakePoint Sporting Community in Emerson has announced all events through Sunday have been canceled.

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Cartersville, Georgia