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Omaha Public Schools suspends all athletics

Omaha Public Schools suspends all athletics

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All athletics have been suspended in the Omaha Public Schools while the district does remote learning for at least the first quarter of the school year.

The first quarter is now scheduled to last through Oct. 16. The high schools directly impacted by this suspension are Central, South, North, Northwest, Bryan, Burke and Benson.

“We understand the important role extra-curricular activities play in a student’s school experience,” OPS Superintendent Cheryl Logan wrote in an email to families. “This suspension is for the health and safety of everyone.”

The move was telegraphed Thursday night when Logan told a neighborhood association virtual meeting the decision was “going to make our athletes mad.”

“We can have either school or (sports), but we can’t have both,” Logan said during the meeting with the South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance.

Logan led into her comments on athletics by mentioning how OPS has created a contact tracing team. Contact tracing was needed this week, she said, “because of volume during the summertime.

“We already could see that with our athletics,” Logan said. “We sacrificed the beginning of the school year so that we could have athletics in the city.”

Logan said OPS earlier in the week quarantined 17 people in one school off “one very close contact.”

Fall sports workouts statewide are to begin Monday. The Nebraska School Activities Association is sticking with its plans and scheduling for the fall while saying flexibility likely will be needed if there are localized outbreaks of COVID-19.

Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas are neighboring states that are keeping fall sports on schedule. Colorado is moving some fall sports, including football and volleyball, to the spring while creating four sports seasons during the first half of 2021.

NSAA will make no new Class A schedules

The impact of Omaha Public Schools suspending sports for the first quarter of the new school year affects the rest of Class A, especially for football.

But there will not be new schedules made, the head of the Nebraska School Activities Association said Friday.

“We are going to hold steady,’’ Jay Bellar said. “I don’t know that we could say we planned for this because I didn’t think (the OPS decision) was going to be for nine weeks.

“I was planning on a late start (from OPS) more than anything.”

OPS Superintendent Cheryl Logan, as part of the district’s announcement Friday on its changes in returning to school this month, said that there will be no sports or activities in OPS while there is remote learning in place.

The earliest OPS will have in-person instruction is the first day of the second quarter on Oct. 19. It starts a week that ends the regular season in Class A football. Thus the only sport in which there could be a semblance of a season for OPS is volleyball, since Class A district tournaments are the week of Oct. 26.

It’s conceivable that if the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t subside by October, OPS could remain in remote learning longer and possibly affect the winter sports season. Girls and boys basketball are the district’s strongest sports across the board.

In football, the OPS decision has wiped out 44 games with opponents from outside the district. Lincoln Southwest is in the worst spot, losing four of its nine games. Seven schools are short three games apiece.

Bellar said Nate Neuhaus of the NSAA, who oversees football, is assisting schools that are losing games to pair them up for “replacement games.” Such games will not count toward the postseason qualifying point system.

Because it takes more than a month to draw up statewide schedules, Bellar said, “How can we get that done in a short amount of time now?”

At a Friday press conference, Logan was asked whether OPS would have started fall sports workouts on Monday had it stayed with its 3/2 Family Model. It would have had students at school five of every 10 days.

“That’s a hypothetical, and I’ve learned in my life that I have enough real questions to answer that I don’t have a hypothetical answer,’’ she said.

Grand Island Senior High was scheduled for three games against Omaha opponents: Sept. 25 vs. Omaha Westside, Oct. 2 vs. Benson and Oct. 23 against Omaha Bryan.

Fall sports workouts statewide are to begin on Monday. Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas are neighboring states that are keeping fall sports on schedule. Colorado is moving some fall sports, including football and volleyball, to the spring while creating four sports seasons during the first half of 2021.

Bellar said he has empathy for OPS losing out on fall sports.

“I feel for Omaha, I feel for the kids not getting to have their fall sports, but, but as long as we can, we made the determination that if it’s not the same in all our communities that we would do our best to try to continue on,’’ he said. “At this point in time that’s what we’re going to do.”

Schools losing football games

Bellevue East: Aug. 28, Omaha Benson; Sept. 11, Omaha South; Sept. 17, Omaha Northwest.

Bellevue West: Aug. 27, Omaha Burke; Oct. 2, Northwest.

Columbus: Aug. 28, Omaha Central; Oct. 9, Northwest.

Elkhorn South: Sept. 11, Central.

Fremont: Sept. 11, Benson; Sept. 24, South; Oct. 16, North.

Grand Island: Sept. 25 Oct. 2, Benson. Oct. 23, Omaha Bryan.

Gretna: Sept. 4, Central.

Kearney: Sept. 4, Burke. Oct. 23, Northwest.

Lincoln High: Sept. 4, Bryan; Sept. 18, Central; Oct. 16, Northwest.

Lincoln North Star: Oct. 23, North.

Lincoln Northeast: Sept. 11, Northwest.

Lincoln Pius X: Oct. 9: North.

Lincoln Southeast: Aug. 28, North

Lincoln Southwest: Sept. 11, North; Oct. 2, South; Oct. 16, Burke; Oct. 23, Central.

Millard North: Sept. 11, Burke; Sept. 25, Bryan; Oct. 15, Benson.

Millard South: Sept. 24, North; Oct. 23, Burke.

Norfolk: Aug. 28, South; Sept. 25, Benson; Oct. 2, Bryan.

Omaha Westside: Sept. 4, North; Oct. 16, Bryan; Oct. 22, Benson.

Papillion-La Vista South: Oct. 2, Burke; Oct. 9, Central; Oct. 23, South.

Ralston: Sept. 11, Bryan.

South Sioux City: Sept. 18, Bryan; Sept. 25, Northwest.

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