Wewa coach talks about current protocol with practice less than a week away

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 9:25 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -High School football begins this coming Monday and that means area coaches and players are gearing up for it. For coaches, along with worries about logistics and other items, they have to worry about once again dealing with certain protocols when it comes to COVID-19.

For instance, in Gulf County, coaches like Wewa’s Bobby Johns has to worry about, beyond the normal slate of injuries befalling his players, losing players from week to week with COVID issues. I spoke with coach Johns via Zoom Monday and we talked about that issue, and since the FHSAA allows the individual school districts to set their own guidelines, what will that mean for his school, his program?

“We are actually, they are meeting today (Monday) to start working on the start of school stuff. And one of the things they’re addressing, in our county, is what the protocol is gonna be, if we start school and we have a positive test of some kind. So right now we are operating under the protocol that was the last of the school year last year. Which stated for us that if a student tested positive, they must quarantine. But there was not contact tracing at that point. Only if someone tested positive or showed symptoms, were they quarantined. And that’s kind of what we’ve been operating right now.”

As for the question of vaccinations, well Coach Johns admits it is a very difficult position for coaches and administrators to be in.

“Quite frankly Scott I’ve tried to stay away from the subject for the most part.” coach Johns said., “You know we have parents, I had one this morning that went and got their first shot. And that’s great. A lot of them have chosen not to do that. That’s kind of their decision. I don’t think that we’re in the same situation that maybe you would be on the college level. Or especially on the NFL level where you can kind of push that situation. That’s really got to be a family decision.”

Coach Johns is smart enough to know, even if every player in his program, every player in every other area high school program, gets vaccinated, well that doesn’t relieve coaches of COVID worries.

“The problem is, even if they get the shot, they can still get COVID.” the coach told me. “They’re still going to have to quarantine. And your quarantine protocols are still in place. So then it becomes what you believe is the right direction to go. And I try to stay away from those waters as much as I can. But the more of our kids that get it, the probably the better off we are, just like in society. But you know I’m afraid in our situation it’s hard to really dictate that to them. It’s kind of got to be that we hope that we are lucky and be able to get through without a whole lot of issues.”

All in all coach Johns says he’s thrilled with what is just ahead. And he’s thrilled they are set to begin fall practice on time this year. Especially when he thinks back to this time last year, when he was a part of the FHSAA Board as it debated whether or not to allow fall sports to be played at all last fall. Coach Johns in fact led the charge to allow the individual school districts to decide for themselves.

“I just think we were blessed to be able to get a full football season in. Or most of us got a full football season in, I think we lost one game due to COVID, with Port St. Joe. You know otherwise we were able to get a full season in. We’ve had pretty much a full off season. You know it’s just amazing how far we’ve come. I mean I’m getting a little bit scared that there may be some setbacks along the way. So that’s really what kind of our focus is right now. But it’s kind of amazing to think that a year ago we didn’t know if we were gonna play a game at all. And now here we are a year later ready to go with another season.”

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