The Henry County School System has shut down all athletics and extracurricular activities for now.

Mike Poteete, county schools’ athletic director, said Thursday morning the decision was made in conjunction with the county Board of Education’s decision Tuesday to delay the opening of schools until Aug. 31.

“After the school board met and made the decision to delay the opening of schools until August 31 because of the uptick in cases of the coronavirus, we decided that we needed to do something about our sports teams. As of now, all practice and workouts for in-season sports such as football, volleyball, girls’ soccer, cross country and golf are suspended until further notice. Other sports like basketball and spring sports that had planned activities are shut down, too,” said Poteete.

He said there was no timetable discussed about when the athletes could return to practice or could begin play.

“Right now, the athletes are shut down through the end of next week. We will meet after that to evaluate the number of sick in our community and check with the guidelines at that point from the governor’s office and follow the recommendations of the TSSAA for how to proceed. “Right now, I can’t answer how long the shutdown is going to last. Everything seems to be changing daily. We want everyone to understand that we just want to ensure the safety of all our student athletes. Because of that, we thought it was the right thing to do at this point,” said Poteete.

Patriot football head coach James Counce Jr. said he agrees with the decision to halt workouts at this time but is eager for the situation to improve in the community and get back to preparing for the upcoming season.

“We realize that we have had an increase in the number of coronavirus cases in our community. We’ve sent everyone home but are able to communicate with our players on an app we use. They have some running drills and body weight things they can do to help them with their conditioning so that when we get the green light to return to practice we can hit the ground running. But right now, everyone’s safety is our main concern,” said Counce.

Schools in Nashville were asked Wednesday to call off sports activities until after Labor Day. The TSSAA previously announced that any school that couldn’t compete in a scheduled game would not receive a loss but the healthy team would receive a win if a contest was called off.

Golf, volleyball and girls’ soccer were set to begin play within the next two weeks at HCHS. Football had already been told not to hold scrimmages, 7-on-7 drills or jamborees to prepare for the planned Aug. 21 opener with Haywood County at Patriot Stadium.

Football teams are required to have a week of non-contact practice in helmet and pads prior to beginning at least three weeks of contact practice before playing games. Counce said they would be in contact with the TSSAA to learn what guidelines they’d have to meet to be able to begin playing games when the shutdown ends.

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