La Crosse area schools plan to keep high-risk sports and activities going

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending K-12 schools cancel high-risk sports and activities in areas of high COVID-19 transmission

LA CRESCENT, Minn. (WKBT) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending schools cancel some sports and activities in areas of high COVID-19 transmission.

The CDC identifies sports into three categories: high, intermediate, and low-risk.

High-risk sports include football and wrestling.

Band and choir fall under high-risk activities as well.

But some area schools say they intend to keep these programs running.

Schools have been in this situation before, balancing pandemic precautions with sports and extracurricular activities.

“We believe that we continue to do it in a safe way,” La Crescent-Hokah Public School superintendent Dale Carlson said.

According to the CDC, more than 99 percent of the country has high levels of virus transmission. Houston County falls under this category.

But Carlson says the district plans to continue sports activities.

“We think it’s what’s best for our kids right now, to still provide that opportunity for them to practice together, compete together, learn together,” Carlson said.

Health experts say sports pose a greater risk for the virus to spread. But at the same time, they say sports are good for students’ mental health.

“Kids find so much joy in sports that are doing it,” Mayo Clinic Health System pediatric and sports medicine doctor David Soma said.

Soma says sports are good for kids physically and socially.

When you take sports away, he says kids lose their normal routine and become more isolated.

“And we know that those aren’t always the best for them, either,” Soma said.

Soma says playing sports in this current environment has its risks and benefits.

“If we can keep it going as safely as possible, I think that’s the best interests of kids in most situations,” Soma said.

Carlson says the district keeps in touch with other schools and health departments to make decisions about sporting events.

So, things can change at anytime.

“Health and safety remains our top priority,” Carlson said. “But also with that, we want to provide these opportunities for our students.”

News 8 Now did contact other schools throughout the La Crosse area.

Onalaska, West Salem, Holmen, Bangor, and Aquinas leaders all say they do plan to proceed with sports and activities.

La Crosse and Sparta school district leaders were not available for comment.

News 8 Now also made a request to the Tomah Area School District, but we did not hear back.

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