First football and soccer.

Now basketball and wrestling can join the list of sports at Fort Knox Middle High School to have their seasons cut because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In late July, the Department of Defense Education Activity released its guidelines for athletics and extracurricular activities in a three-tiered guideline based on COVID-19.

Group 1: Lower Infection Risk Activities.

Group 2: Moderate Infection Risk.

Group 3: Higher Infection Risk.

Under the plan, DoDEA installations classified as being in Health Protection Condition level Bravo (Groups 2 and 3) will not be able to take part in high or moderate infection risk activities.

Fort Knox remains in HPCON Bravo, leaving high or moderate infection risk activities unavailable to students.

Wrestling is in Group 3 and basketball is in Group 2.

“To protect the health of our student athletes and to help stop the spread of the virus, we have determined that allowing contact sports for the winter season represents an unnecessary risk,” said Will Griffin, Deputy Chief of Communications for DoDEA.

“Basketball, wrestling and competition cheer teams will continue to meet and conduct individual skill-building activities that can be conducted safely, with risk mitigations in place,” Griffin added. “Competitions, either internal or with other schools, are not approved for this season.”

He said the decision to cancel is “not made lightly.”

“We understand that this decision may be troubling for our students and their families,” he said. “School events and activities are important to creating a sense of normalcy for students and communities and we are committed to education-based athletic programs once the health situation changes.”

Fort Knox Athletic Director Jackie Prather deferred all questions about the decision to DoDEA.

In an email sent Wednesday night to 17th District athletic directors at Central Hardin, Elizabethtown, John Hardin and North Hardin high schools, she wrote “ ... our headquarters released today that we are not going to play basketball or wrestling for the winter season.” She asked if the information could be passed to coaches in those two sports.

The decision mean district teams will play, at least right now, a six-game district basketball schedule. District teams play a home-and-home series each year.

Fort Knox will have swimming this school year. Swimming, along with track and field, tennis, debate/forensics and Scholastic Bowl/Spelling Bee, is considered a Group 1 sport or activity.

The school has fielded cross country teams this fall and volleyball has played a modified schedule with nine matches scheduled. The Lady Eagles didn’t have their first match until Sept. 24 — more than two weeks later than other district schools.

DoDEA Americas said it would assess its winter and spring sports options when those seasons approached.

Jeff D’Alessio can be reached at 270-505-1757 or jdalessio@thenewsenterprise.com

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