Orange County extends COVID-19 safety measures for more student athletes

ORLANDO, Fla. — First football players, and now other Orange County student-athletes could have a choice on their hands: face-to-face learning or game day.

School leaders started discussions Wednesday night on what to do about winter sports, and it has left some parents with new questions and concerns.

Football players have already had to agree to either do LaunchEd@Home or group up on campus.

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Some Winter Park basketball parents and students brought their concerns to the school board. They’re fine with some restrictions but argue kids shouldn’t have to choose between face-to-face learning or sports.

Winter Park senior Jack Cocchiarella worked hard last school year and is now team captain.

“We’ve been waiting for it to be our team, our year, our senior year,” Cocchiarella said.

He wants to play this winter and learn face to face.

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Cocchiarella’s got Ivy League dreams and said face to face is key.

Basketball is a high contact sport. Players handle the same ball, play defense, and breathe heavily to race up and down the court.

Orange County Public Schools believes basketball as well as wrestling and soccer may need enhanced safety precautions.

Parents argue many kids are already participating in club sports and are still coming to school without any issues so far.

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The school board’s medical advisory committee discussed the issue Wednesday night but did not make a recommendation.

Orange County Public Schools released the following statement Thursday night:

“We are currently consulting on how we can keep our student athletes who participate in winter sports as safe as possible, while also protecting the general population. COVID-19 testing will continue for high-contact sports, including competitive cheerleading, basketball, soccer and wrestling. At this time, there are no plans to cohort those athletes due to logistical complications. We will, however, expect the highest level of compliance to all safety measures by teams, individual athletes and coaches.”

Cierra Putman

Cierra Putman, WFTV.com

Cierra Putman flew south to join Eyewitness News in July 2016.