NEWPORT—Elementary basketball in Cocke County is back in business.

Starting next week, Jan. 11, elementary school teams in the county will return to the floor for practice, as they gear up to officially restart the season on Jan. 21.

“We’re set to return to play, but will be doing so with extreme caution,” Going to return with extreme caution,” Cocke County Athletic Association Director Shannon Grooms said. “We’re going to follow the same guidelines that the high school teams are, which are in accordance with the governor’s recent executive order.

On Dec. 20, Gov. Bill Lee signed into effect Executive Order 70, which placed restrictions on attendance to school-sponsored sporting events throughout the state. The order was a collaborative effort with the Tennessee Secondary School Athletics Association, which states attendance is to be limited to immediate household members of kids participating in a given event.

“We’re asking for cooperation and understanding,” Grooms said. “Our main goal is for students to get to play and finish their seasons. We’re going to do our best for them in making sure we see them through a full season, but in order to do that we have to have full cooperation from the community.”

The season has been on hold since Nov. 13, as rising numbers and further complications from COVID-19 rocked the county school system. As a result the Cocke County School Board made the decision to place all elementary and recreation basketball activities on hold, at least until January.

“With so many games cancelled, this was a decision we felt needed to be made,” Grooms said in November.

At the time the postponement of the season was announced, 12 Cocke County Elementary Basketball Association games had already been postponed, as opposed to the 16 games that had been played in the season.

The decision came during a time when county schools all across the area had been forced into remote learning due to rising cases and contact tracing within the schools. Some schools had been forced to go remote for weeks at a time due to the severity of their conditions.

As a general rule for elementary basketball in the county, no school means no play, which added to the high number of games that were being postponed through the first four weeks of the season.

“This was something we were forced to look into early on,” Grooms said in November. “It’s not a decision that was just made overnight. We had met many times and discussed a plan in case our situation worsened.”

At the time of postponement, the league still had 11 full nights of games left to be played, not counting the 12 games that had already been postponed.

A fully revised schedule for how the remainder of the year will play out is expected to be available over the next week.

Both the Newport Parks and Recreation, and Cocke County Recreation Department’s seasons were placed on hold as well during November’s announcement. The Cocke County Rec. Dept. announced on social media Thursday night that its season will also continue, with more information to be released at a later time.

As of this report, the Newport Parks and Rec. Dept. has not released any statement regarding a resumption of its season.

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