Carteret cancels early winter sports seasons due to rising COVID-19 cases

by Mike Pavlichko

This post has been updated to clarify which sports have been cancelled.

The Carteret school district has decided to cancel its early winter season sports, due to increasing case numbers in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

That would include boys’ and girls’ basketball, bowling and cheerleading. Wrestling – which according to the NJSIAA, is not set to begin practicing until March – so far is not affected. Athletic Director Grace Cunha clarified Monday which sports are affected.

School Board President Martin Murray confirmed by phone Saturday night to Central Jersey Sports Radio that the decision was made Thursday night between him and Superintendent Rosa Diaz.

“Two months ago, we had all intentions of playing (the winter season),” Murray said, but added “this is just the way it played out.”

Murray is referring to the fact that the district announced Monday it would remain in remote status until March 1.

Diaz wrote in a letter to parents dated January 5th: “Unfortunately, as the date to re-open approaches, our local and neighboring communities continue to face rising cases of COVID-19. In just the last few weeks we have had 15 staff-reported cases. Sadly, we also continue to receive information regarding lost loved ones for many members of our community.”

“We were scheduled to come back this past Monday,” Murray told CJSR. But with in-school learning shut down, “that becomes a domino effect. How do we allow teams to practice in school and play in school when students and teachers aren’t in school?”

Recently, the Middlesex school district announced it would delay the start of winter team practices until January 19th, and would delay the start of basketball season a week until February 2nd to give the teams enough time to prepare.

Old Bridge announced it would begin practicing outdoors, and Woodbridge announced schools would be in remote status until March 1. However, no announcement has been made – or is necessarily expected – about winter sports.

Governor Murphy, in advance of the fall sports season, said school districts need not have in-person learning to allow sports to be played.

And Murray thinks that’s part of the problem.

“I think the state should be doing this,” Murray said. “I think the NJSIAA should be doing this.”

According to the NJSIAA’s rules for winter sports – Season Two – boys’ and girls’ basketball practice can begin on Monday (January 11), and the season begins Tuesday, January 26th.

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