LINCOLN – It wasn’t the kind of news that Lincoln High athletic director Greg O’Connor wanted to hear, not with the first day of practice for winter sports teams on the immediate horizon.

Alarms were triggered after it was learned that issues involving positive COVID-19 cases and contact tracing had affected multiple LHS student-athletes across multiple sports.

That information came to light over the weekend – just in time for the Lions to start practicing on Monday.

After a two-hour meeting on Monday morning that featured district leaders, school nurses, and athletic trainers, Lincoln decided to push back the start date for winter practice in all sports to this coming Saturday, Jan. 16. Athletes and coaches were notified of the decision Monday at noontime with practices scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

“It wasn’t a decision that we took lightly, but safety is the first priority before putting the kids in a situation that could ultimately cause more harm to them and their families. We made the best decision possible based off the information we had,” said O’Connor. “We’re monitoring the situation. Obviously things change on a day-to-day basis, but we’re tracking towards starting up on Saturday. (Tuesday) was a good day.”

The Lincoln athletes who have either tested positive or have a close-contact issue won’t be available to their respective teams for Saturday’s first day of practice. Upon clearing the quarantine hurdle, they’ll have to adhere to the winter sports general safety mitigation requirements that were implemented by the R.I. Interscholastic League after receiving approval from the Principals’ Committee on Athletics at the Dec. 9 meeting.

To summarize, any athlete who tests positive for the coronavirus must be cleared by their primary care physician or medical professional prior to adhering to the return-to-play protocol that includes participating in 10 practices before being allowed to play a game. This development will leave those LHS athletes who are currently in COVID timeout little choice but to play catchup after missing an indefinite period that includes practice time and possibly games.

“There are some kids who are out for 20 days right now through no fault of their own because a family member in their house has it,” said O’Connor.

Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03

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