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Newton County athletics suspend play amid rising COVID-19 concerns
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Editor’s note: This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available. It was last updated Friday, March 13.

Friday morning, the Newton County School System announced that in the interest of public health, all of its schools will be closing Monday, March 16. Additionally, all after-school and extracurricular activities are cancelled until further notice.

Eastside High School athletic director Phillip Davidson confirmed that all Eagles athletics are suspended indefinitely as of Friday. Alcovy High School athletic director Thomas Lowe also confirmed the Tigers will be following suit and suspending athletics beginning Friday. Meanwhile, Newton High School athletic director Vincent Byams said that as of Friday morning, the plan is for the Rams to suspend all athletics indefinitely starting Monday.

The Georgia High School Association announced Thursday that it will not suspend spring high school athletics as concerns over COVID-19 grow. However, after releasing a statement that it would not likely alter any sanctioned events, the association is now suspending the state literary meet out of concern for the coronavirus.

“The regular season belongs to the schools themselves,“ GHSA Executive Director Dr. Robin Hines stated in a press release Thursday evening. “We can only recommend that they suspend playing. The final decision will rest with the local school systems, but we hope they heed the Governor’s and the GHSA’s recommendations.”

The GHSA State Literary meets are expected to be made up at a future date.

Hines said the GHSA would provide an update on the issue “by close of business on Friday, March 27th.”

“We hate to have to make this call, but we must do what is in the best interest of our student-athletes and fans.”

GHSA sent out letters to its member schools Tuesday morning advising them not to overreact to the spread of COVID-19, but that GHSA would support decisions by school officials to cancel or postpone contests.

"In the event that circumstances dictate that you postpone events, the GHSA will support those decisions and help with rescheduling or any way we can. Regions are responsible for determining those eligible for post season and keep this in mind should games be cancelled/ postponed. I know this is a difficult time and the weather this spring season has not made things any easier."

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp held a press conference Thursday afternoon and issued a call to action, but did not mandate that schools close due to the virus.

The NBA announced Wednesday that it has suspended play "until further notice" after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. On Thursday, the MLB, MLS and NHL suspended their respective seasons due to concerns.

In an earthshaking step, the NCAA canceled all winter and spring sports championships.

Fulton County Schools canceled classes and all sporting events Tuesday in the wake of a teacher testing positive for COVID-19.

GHSA sports currently in season are baseball, gymnastics, soccer, lacrosse, golf, tennis, slow pitch softball and track and field.