VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Two more high school football games in Hampton Roads have been canceled this week due to issues related to COVID-19.
Virginia Beach school leaders informed parents the JV football game between Kellam and Landstown has been canceled for Wednesday and the varsity game between Kempsville and Landstown has been canceled on Friday.
The games are the latest among dozens of football games that have been postponed or canceled so far this season across Virginia.
"We'd love for all our teams to be playing every week, like normal, but we're not in a normal situation," said Tom Dolan, the associate director for the Virginia High School League.
Decisions about whether to postpone or cancel games are up to the local school divisions themselves. VHSL says cancellations for COVID will not impact a team's standings.
VHSL says though a forfeiture is possible if a visiting team doesn't accept the COVID protocols of a home team.
"Our schools have been really good, flexible on dealing with all of this for the last 15 to 18 months, so they continue to be flexible and positive, and that's what keeps it going," said Dolan.
The issue is not unique to Hampton Roads. Health officials in North Carolina report a big increase in cases among school sports teams over the last two months.
The North Carolina Dept. of Health and Human Services says in early September kids under 17 years old accounted for 31% of all new cases in the state, the highest percentage since the start of the pandemic.
"It's not so much the play on the field, but it's those athletes who also then tend to hang together on sidelines, in the locker rooms and socially as well," said Dr. Betsey Tilson, the North Carolina State Health Director.
Dr. Tilson is encouraging all students 12 and up to get vaccinated and for teams to practice other COVID mitigation strategies, like wearing masks indoors and testing.
"The same strategies that help to reduce risk in the classroom are the same strategies that can reduce the risk on the field," said Tilson. "It is critically important for our kids' emotional, physical and mental health that they're in school learning and on the field playing."