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NCHSAA delays start of fall sports season

If public schools across North Carolina do open for in mid-August for students to possibly return, don’t expect athletics to follow the same timeline.

On Tuesday, Governor Roy Cooper announced the reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year. His plan includes a mix of both in-person learning and online instruction. The Governor indicated that the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) would be making the decisions relative to sports.

This morning (Wednesday), the NCHSAA Board of Directors announced the start of the high school fall sports season is delayed until at least Sept. 1.

The NCHSAA Directors also agreed to designate the first five student days of the 2020-2021 school year as a “dead period” for all sports, allowing school staff to focus on the start of school.

Meanwhile, the NCHSAA Phase One of the summer conditioning and workouts, which were decided upon by each member school and put in place (where approved) on June 8, will continue until further notice.

“For now, we believe these steps provide hope for our student athletes, and the possibility for playing fall sports,” stated NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker in a press release sent today. “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 DHHS (state Department of Health and Human Services), or some other reason exists for delaying further into September or beyond,” Tucker added.

The Commissioner acknowledged 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.”

Tucker continued, “In the coming weeks, we will continue working with the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee 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 Department of Health and Human Services relative to the data and how we all safely move forward. We are in this together, and we will play again,” she concluded.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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