GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Gulfport High’s football team will forfeit this Friday’s scheduled game against St. Martin after a decision made in August by the school district to not play games against Jackson County schools, citing “differences” in COVID-19 protocols.
When the Gulfport School District made that decision, they say their top priority was clear.
“Our first role as a school district is the health and safety of our students, especially during this pandemic,” Gulfport Superintendent Glen East said.
Over the summer, East sent out letters to every district on Gulfport’s schedule outlining their protocols. They went forward with every district that planned on practicing protocols similar in nature.
But that did not include the Jackson County School District.
“I got assurance from all the superintendents except for one that they were doing the same thing we were, especially in contact tracing, to make sure that we could control the community spread," said East.
With that special emphasis on contact tracing, the district has been able to keep the number of cases among its students low.
“We’ve only had 16 positive cases since we began school on August 5," East said. "When you look at our school district of 6,400 and we’ve had 16 students with positive cases, we’ve done a good job of controlling community spread in our school district.”
Friday’s forfeit means the football team’s 23-game region winning streak will come to an end. But in the time of a pandemic, the district’s top priority remains the same, regardless of the circumstance.
“It’s more than just a Friday night football game that you’re putting out there," East said. "It’s about an entire school and an entire class. I’m proud of the fact that I think our team recognized that very early. If these numbers stay the same, there’s no doubt we’ve done what we needed to do to take care of our children.”
The Gulfport Admirals football team will resume play on October 2 against West Harrison High.
This Friday’s game was the only one scheduled against a Jackson County School District opponent for the football team.