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PIAA could allow sports practices before original July 1 date in regions outside of Eastern PA

Sunday, 24th May 2020

Categories Boy's/Men's, Girl's/Women's, High School, Posted 5/24/20
Staff Report

The PIAA may be pulling back on its statement in April that no high school sports teams in Pennsylvania can have group workouts or practices until at least July 1 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Wednesday’s PIAA zoom teleconference of directors’ meeting, it was decided that teams could begin workouts earlier than July 1 if they are in a county that is put in the “green phase” by Gov. Wolf.

The board also passed a motion that gives PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi the authority to establish guidelines for teams to start workouts, provided they are in “green phase” counties.

Currently, all Eastern PA regions are in the “red” phase, so no school athletics are permitted.

Bob Hartman, board member and also the athletic director at Whitehall High School in District 11’s Allentown, gave a passionate plea to let some schools start workouts, even if some others can’t.

“In any phase, if [workouts are] permitted, we should allow it,” Hartman said. “I mean, I know that’s not permitted in yellow. But in two weeks, maybe it could be allowed in yellow, with 10 or less people. If it is permitted, let’s allow it. Why should we deny kids if they’re permitted?”

Lombardi said the board supports athletics, “You saw and heard how committed they are to get the kids back to doing what they like to do — play athletics. That’s why this whole scenario for the past eight weeks has been gut-wrenching for all of us.”

The National Federation of State High School Associations on Monday gave all state associations guidelines for starting workouts and practices once states re-open. The guidelines call for three phases of going back to practices and games.

The guidance developed for state associations suggests a possible sport breakdown for higher risk, moderate risk and lower risk, with the basis for the breakdown tied to the potential exposure to respiratory droplets. As an example, the interaction of participants in higher-risk sports such as football and wrestling present more of a concern for transmission of the virus than lower-risk sports like individual running events and golf. Girls’ lacrosse was listed as a moderate-risk sport, but boys’ lacrosse was listed as a high-risk sport.

“That’s a resource. It’s not necessarily a mandate,” Lombardi said. “It’s something to consider.”


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