Each local school system must follow guidelines
and develop way to finalize return of sports
By CHRIS HOBBS
CHAPEL HILL – A day after Gov. Roy Cooper announced guidelines for reopening of schools, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) on Wednesday extended its delay of fall sports.
In a press release, NCHSAA officials said these decisions have been made as the state continues to battle COVID-19:
— The start of NCHSAA fall sports is delayed until at least Sept. 1.
— The first five student days of the 2020-2021 school year will be designated as a “dead period” for ALL sports, allowing school staff to focus on the start of school.
— NCHSAA Phase One of the summer conditioning and workouts will continue until further notice.
Fall sports first practice dates are traditionally on Aug. 1, and the first varsity football games were to be played on Aug. 17 but will now be delayed.
Here is a statement by NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker regarding COVID-19 and Tuesday’s decision by state officials to implement Plan B (some students in school, others in virtual learning and each school system developing a plan; systems may also go to Plan C – all virtual learning – if they so choose):
“For now, we believe these steps provide hope for our student athletes, and the possibility for playing fall sports. We know that many decisions are being made relative to the reopening plan your school(s) will follow.
“After each LEA has had an opportunity to formalize and finalize those reopening plans, the NCHSAA Staff will survey the membership to determine how sports should and/or can fit into the various models that will exist across the state.
“Please understand this delayed start date is not “in cement” and can be delayed even further if we do not have improved data from Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), or some other reason exists for delaying further into September or beyond.
“We acknowledge that playing certain sports are more problematic at any time without a vaccine; however, we remain in consultation with our Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) members, and they believe we can and should offer a sports program, with all necessary modifications, delays, etc.
“In the coming weeks, we will continue working with the SMAC as we plan our next steps for the fall, as well as determining when equipment could be shared—i.e. balls— and/or if we can move into Phase 2 of the summer workouts/conditioning.
Each NCHSAA board member believes in the value of education-based athletics and is committed to SAFELY offering a fall, winter, and spring sports program during this school year; however, there is also a commitment to the health and safety of students and coaches.
“Towards this end, we all will continue to follow the guidance of the DHHS relative to the data and how we all safely move forward.
“We are in this together, and we will play again!”