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Buckeye Local stops offseason program

CONNORVILLE — Buckeye Local became the latest area school to cease its sports conditioning and open gyms due the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Superintendent Kim Leonard announced the decision late Wednesday evening, but quickly pointed out that no Buckeye Local student has tested positive or even is believed to have the coronavirus.

“We’ve not even sent a kid to be tested, but this is strictly out of precaution,” Leonard said.

The Panthers are expected to shut down until July 9, but Leonard said with the fluidity of the situation, there are no guarantees.

“We will revisit it in two weeks,” Leonard said. “In two weeks time, Lord only knows who or how many (people) will have this (virus). We’ll revisit and if we feel it’s safe, we will resume.”

Leonard was quite honest and admitted that Martins Ferry’s announcement earlier in the day on Wednesday resonated with her.

“Our kids and Martins Ferry kids interact with each other all the time,” Leonard said. “We want to make sure we’re erring on the side of caution. With so many schools near us shutting down, we felt it would be best.”

Prior to shutting down, Leonard was planning to implement a plan similar to what Union Local had announced earlier in the week where it would ask student-athletes who have left Ohio on vacation for more than one day to quarantine from his or her team for 14 additional days.

Leonard clarified that and added more specifics.

“Anyone who has traveled to a southern state where there are many, many people at risk such as the Carolinas, Florida, etc., we don’t want our students coming back (to their teams) for 14 days,” Leonard said. “We would also recommend that those kids get tested.”

That follows up the rash of cases that have sprung up this week in Belmont County that led to the suspensions of sports at Shadyside, Bellaire, Martins Ferry and St. Clairsville.

“It’s hitting,” Leonard said. “We’ve gone from Shadyside to Bellaire to Martins Ferry and it spreads so quickly that we just want to be very, very careful.”

Each Buckeye Local coach is expected to be fully aware of when one of his or her athletes is leaving for their vacation to be able to monitor the athlete when it returns.

“Our coaches are on board with this and one actually said it perfectly that they’d rather us shutdown for a couple of weeks than a kid gets it and it spreads through everyone we’re shut down until basically school starts (in August).”

One additional aspect for Buckeye Local applies to the coaches, too. Leonard indicated that the coaches who leave on vacation to one of the “hot-spot areas” will also be asked to stay away from their teams.

“We have several coaches leaving (for vacations) this weekend and another one a week later, so they will not be permitted to be with their athletes for 14 days upon their arrival,” Leonard said.

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