The North Carolina State Board of Education voted earlier this month to allow sixth-grade students to immediately begin taking part in all middle school sports except football, pending local school district approval. For many schools, the late decision has put them in a bind for the upcoming fall season, seeing as though fall sports already have started.
The new law allows sixth-graders to play any sport at the middle school level, except football. Many middle schools around the area have decided to not allow sixth-graders to play this season, but no one is ruling out the option that sixth-graders can play on seventh- and eighth-grade teams in the near future.
For Elkin City Schools, the decision was brought to the whole conference. Elkin Middle School’s athletic conference voted to not allow sixth-graders to play this upcoming season, but they would consider the option at a different time. In Surry County, the board decided to hold off on its vote until coaches around the county have been consulted. For Yadkin County, Superintendent Dr. Todd Martin expressed that the sixth-graders in the county would not be allowed to play this season with the middle schools, but it could be an option in the future.
“We are in a little bit of a different situation with our middle schools. In Yadkin County, sixth-grade students still attend elementary school, as our middle schools have only seventh and eighth grades,” said Martin. “At this point we are not planning to add sixth-grade students to our middle school athletic teams for the upcoming school year.”
The same situation occurs in Elkin City Schools, as its sixth-grade students attend the elementary school.
There are concerns when adding sixth-graders to the roster, as there would be more cuts for the smaller teams. But while there are concerns, there are also some positives as many sixth-graders would now get the same opportunities as the seventh- and eighth-graders.
“In discussions with our athletic directors, we felt like it would be best to hold off for at least the coming school year,” said Martin. “I feel like sixth-graders have access to solid recreation league programs for most sports and these programs have a lot of support at the elementary schools.”
The various schools around the counties will go back to this option in the future, but for now everyone has decided to keep the teams the same for the 2016-2017 school year.
Kristian Russell can be reached at 336-258-4052 o on Twitter @YadkinElkSports.