By CRISTINA JANNEY
The ARC of the Central Plains suspended two sports seasons on July 14 because someone close to the program tested positive for COVID-19.
Both the ARC's bowling and volleyball seasons were closed early and will not resume, Brent Kaiser, activities director, said.
However, the program hopes to proceed with its softball season, starting in August, with a phased approach, Kaiser said.
Kaiser did not release the name of the person who had tested positive or their relationship to the program. However, he said Thursday no one else associated with the program has since tested positive for the virus.
Kaiser said the ARC contacted the Ellis County Health Department about the case, although it was not required to do so.
"We canceled the season for precautionary reasons," he said. "We want everyone to be safe for the general fact that our athletes are at higher risk."
The local ARC recently received direction from Kansas Special Olympics on how to proceed with sports seasons after Aug. 1.
Kaiser said the ARC will approach the softball season in phases. The start of softball practice is set for Aug. 19, according to the ARC's Facebook page.
In the first phase, athletes would be allowed to practice with instruction on social distancing, wearing masks and using hand sanitizer. The second phase would include games with other team members.
The third phase would be regional games with teams from other communities. However, Kaiser said he was uncertain if the local ARC team would travel this year. The nearest regional game for the ARC of the Central Plains would be Wichita.
Kaiser said how the ARC moves forward with activities will depend on local COVID-19 infections.
"I don't have a crystal ball," he said. "We are just trying to move forward day by day. If it looks like we are going to put one of those people at risk, I'm going to suspend things awhile again."
Activities that are provided by the ARC and the Hays Recreation Commission are important for the population who the ARC serves, Kaiser said.
"That social side is a really a huge aspect of their lives," Kaiser said. "They don't get to get out a lot to do other things."