Gov. Tom Wolf and the PIAA have given the green light for scholastic sports to start up.
As as result, athletic directors across Pennsylvania had a busy week preparing proposals and action plans that required school board approval before teams could start voluntary summer workouts.
“Hoping to have a proposal written by tonight or tomorrow for board approval,” said Upper St. Clair athletic director Kevin Deitrick after receiving the notification.
On June 20, the governor issued COVID-19 guidelines for high school and recreational sports teams to resume voluntary workouts and other in-person activities in the state’s yellow and green phases. The guidance also includes college and professional sports.
“Pennsylvania has some of the best athletes and teams in the country and they can now begin to safely return to organized sports,” Wolf said.
The PIAA, which is the governing body for all scholastic sports in the state, responded that districts need to create an Athletics, Health and Safety plan that requires approval and must be posted on the school’s website.
“Allowing voluntary activities to commence at PIAA member schools as early as the approval by the local board is a significant move to allow students to be students,” said PIAA executive director Dr. Robert A. Lombardi.
The guidance stipulates each school is to have a plan in place to ensure that all sport teams and organizations conduct their operations in the manner best designed to prevent or mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of the athletes and the communities they serve.
Any sporting activities must adhere to the gathering limitations set forth by the governor’s Plan for Phased Reopening, which sets a maximum gathering of 25 people in the yellow phase and no more than 250 people or 50% of the facility’s total occupancy, whichever is less, in the green phase.
“I think normal is never going to happen again but we are closer to getting the kids active and that’s what this season is about,” said Peters Township athletic director Brian Geyer. “It will be different than last year. It has to be. That’s fine because the point is to keep employees, athletes and community safe.”
Geyer noted the guidelines and proposals are for the summer and up to Aug. 16. Once a season starts with practice Aug. 17, there will be revisions.
“This is a step in the right direction,” Geyer said. “Hopefully we all adhere to the guidelines because we don’t want to go back. If we all do our part and take the needed precautions, then we all will be in a better situation.
“Let’s do what we have to do. We all have the same goal. So we have to adapt.”
Geyer said beating COVID-19 requires all the resolve that sports teaches.
“We all have a common goal at this point. Keep all healthy and not let this thing spread any more. We have to be patient and haver perseverance. Nothing is going to be immediate but if we do it the right way, then we can beat this.”