PORTSMOUTH, Va. —
"As of right now, we feel real good about fall sports. The majority held outside and will be practicing outside, [we're] preparing for a full fall season."
Portsmouth City Wide Athletic Director Vincent Pugh cited the outdoor conditions as one reason for the city going forward with tis upcoming fall sports schedule. While the school board made the decision to go forward with Fall sports -- including football -- it wasn't kickoffs or touchdowns that ran through Transportation Coordinator Kevin Privot's mind when he was informed of the decision.
"First couple things that ran through my mind is the number of buses we're gonna have to use to accommodate," he said.
Such is the mindset when tasked with getting students safely to and from competition during a time filled with unknowns.
"One thing about transport, it changes so much. Will we ever be able to put 60 on a bus again? I can't answer that question, but it would be a lot less stressful," Privot said.
While the future is uncertain, Privot said he is confident that they will get all athletes to and from their desired playing fields this year.
And while Pugh is confident in the outdoor nature of Fall sports, getting to and from the field is one area of football or field hockey that still takes place in close quarters.
"It'll never be like it once was. In the past, the football team might take three buses... multiply that by two, so five or six buses will be needed on any given night for one particular team," Pivot said.
More buses will allow for a new seating chart to maximize social distance.
"Zig-zag formation, start on the right side, one student per seat and nobody sitting behind the driver to give them enough distance."
This all lines up with EVMS family medicine resident Dr. Rock Vomer's advice in transporting teams safely.
"Always err on the side of safety when giving people as much space as possible, children screened for COVID symptoms and masks," said Vomer.
Vomer was a high school football player himself and currently works with high school trainers.
"There's an important balance to have, it's a team bonding and community experience for students," he said.
That balance is easier struck with Portsmouth students continuing virtual learning for the time being.
"It'll be a difficult task if we do go back to school doing fall sports, due to COVID we have lost a lot of drivers... 30-35 drivers," Privot said, adding that the school system is currently hiring drivers, but plans to get every team to where they need to go for the upcoming season.