High school sports in Hampton Roads are stopped. Bay Rivers schools are set to start playing district games Jan. 6

Marty O'Brien, The Virginian-Pilot

High school sports in Hampton Roads have stopped for the winter break and could be for longer.

While all the school divisions in South Hampton Roads have paused and won’t start playing games until January — if then — the outlook for high school basketball for Peninsula public schools this season is mixed.

The Bay Rivers District is poised to begin playing games the first week of the new year, while the Peninsula District is in limbo ahead of an evaluation of COVID-19 trends.

Practices at public schools were allowed to begin Dec. 7, save the three schools in Williamsburg-James City County, where winter sports have been canceled. But concerns about the rising COVID-19 numbers prompted revisions to practices in both districts.

In Hampton and Newport News, indoor practices were suspended on Dec. 14 and only outdoor conditioning is allowed. Contact and equipment are prohibited, and student-athletes must remain 10 feet apart while conditioning.

Hampton and Newport News will decide the week of Jan. 11 whether they will resume winter sports. The Newport News Public Schools website said the decision will be final, “based on COVID-19 metrics in the competition district areas and guidance from the Peninsula Health District.”

The Hampton City Schools website said game competition is delayed until Jan. 18. That timeline could change “based on the status of COVID-19 and the participation of other school divisions within the Peninsula District,” according to Kellie Goral, Hampton Schools’ Executive Director of Public Relations and Marketing.

After beginning practice and finishing tryouts the past two weeks, York County will transition to non-contact practices beginning Monday. York County Schools Public Relations and Communications Officer Katherine Goff said regular practices will resume Jan. 4 and the first games are still scheduled for Jan. 6.

Goff said York County is encouraging everyone to wear masks, socially distance and limit social gatherings during the holidays “so we can give students the opportunity to go to school and athletes the opportunity to play.”

Bay Rivers boys basketball games will begin on Jan. 6 with two games — Grafton at York and New Kent at Tabb. Bay Rivers girls basketball starts with two games on Jan. 7: York at Grafton and Tabb at New Kent.

Bruton will play its first district game on Jan. 9. Poquoson will follow on Jan. 11 and Smithfield later in January.

The only Bay Rivers school to play basketball before Christmas will be New Kent, which hosts a doubleheader on Monday. New Kent’s girls play Mathews at 5:30 p.m., before its boys face Charles City at 7 p.m.

“I think I can speak for everyone that this has been a long nine months and we are excited to play some sports,” New Kent athletic director John Spiak said. “We know there are some guidelines and protocols to work around, but we are happy to resume some competitive contests.”

In South Hampton Roads, all the schools are paused. Virginia Beach is on hold and could cancel winter sports Tuesday if its COVID-19 metrics don’t improve. Norfolk and Suffolk are on hold until further notice. Portsmouth has suspended sports until Jan. 4. Chesapeake is on hold through the week of Jan. 4 and will decide how to move forward between Jan. 4 and Jan. 8.

Marty O’Brien, 757-247-4963, mjobrien@dailypress.com