PENNSYLVANIA, USA — On the heels of Governor Tom Wolf announcing the state's recommendation to have no high school sports to be played until January 2021, the PIAA announced the start of the fall sports season will be pushed back another two weeks after meeting on Friday.
Pennsylvania's high school sports governing body said the decision will allow for further time to discuss the recommendation with Wolf and receive additional clarification.
As a result, the official start of practice for the fall season has been moved to August 24.
"The PIAA Board of Directors has heard the thousands of voices of student-athletes, parents, coaches, and community leaders that have contacted us," the PIAA said in a statement shortly after the vote. "The Board believes that the governor's strong recommendation to delay sports to January 1, 2021 has a potential negative impact on the students' physical, social, emotional, and mental health. These issues along with the financial inability of many students to participate in any other form of non-school based athletic programs affect all students directly or indirectly.
"PIAA is asking the governor, along with the Departments of Health and Education, to partner with us and work collaboratively to further discuss fall sports. We are also seeking insight and discussion from the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
"It is clear to the PIAA the unintended consequences of cancelling fall sports need to be further reviewed."
Statement from the Mid-Penn Conference:
"The Mid-Penn Conference fully supports the decision of the PIAA Board of Directors in delaying the start of the fall sports season. This fits with the decision of our conference to delay our start. While local school boards still have the final say at their school, our conference will move forward with a delayed fall season as outlined earlier this week. The health and safety of our conference schools, student-athletes, staffs, and communities are still of the utmost importance."
On Thursday, Wolf said at a press conference that his recommendation is no high school sports be played until January 2021 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Wolf said, "The guidance is that we ought to avoid any congregate settings... and that means anything that brings people together that's going to help that virus get us."
"We ought to do everything we can to defeat that virus," Wolf said. "So, anytime we get together for any reason, that's a problem. It makes the virus easier to spread. So, the guidance from us is no sports until January 1."
That was the end of the press conference, and there were no follow up questions allowed to be asked.
Here is the official recommendation from the Wolf administration:
"The Pennsylvania Department of Health and Department of Education today jointly recommended that Pre-K–12 school and recreational youth sports be postponed until at least Jan. 1, 2021, to protect children and teens from COVID-19.
"The administration is providing this strong recommendation and not an order or mandate. As with deciding whether students should return to in-person classes, remote learning or a blend of the two this fall, school administrators and locally elected school boards should make decisions on sports.
"Highlights of the recommendation to pause youth sports until Jan. 1, 2021:
- Applies to team and individual, school and non-school recreational youth sports;
- Includes competitions, intramural play and scrimmages;
- Continue conditioning, drills and other training activities on an individual basis;
- Does not apply to collegiate and professional sports;
- Gathering limits remain unchanged - no more than 25 persons may gather indoors and 250 outdoors.
"The administration is updating existing sports guidance to reflect this recommendation.
"The administration recognizes the importance of getting children back to school, while also protecting the safety and well-being of students and educators. Guidance for schools is available. The guidance represents endorsed best public health practices related to social distancing, face coverings, hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfecting in school settings. It also outlines how to accommodate individuals with disabilities or chronic conditions, procedures for monitoring symptoms, and responding to confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 in the school community."