Gov. Wolf sets Jan. 1 as recommended return date for sports in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced on Thursday that the state is recommending sports do not return until Jan. 1, while answering a question about high school sports.

The announcement comes about a week after the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) announced health and safety guidelines for student-athletes to participate in fall sports.

On Thursday, Governor Wolf was asked about the PIAA's guidance preventing spectators, including parents, from attending games.

"The guidance is that we ought to avoid any congregate settings. That means anything that brings people together is going to help that virus get us," Wolf said in response.

"Anytime we get together for any reason, that's a problem because it makes it easier for that virus to spread. So the guidance from us, the recommendation is that we don't do any sports until Jan. 1," he added.

The recommendation from Wolf’s Health and Education departments applies to individual and team sports, both school-related and other recreational leagues, and to games and scrimmages. It does not apply to college and pro sports.

“The administration is providing this strong recommendation and not an order or mandate,” Wolf’s news release said. “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.”

MORE: PIAA confident high school sports can return safely in the fall

The PIAA, which oversees both junior high and high school athletics across the state, recently introduced mitigation measures, including the option to modify season schedules and start times.

Under the current guidelines, athletes and coaches must follow daily health screenings; high fives, fist bumps and hugs are prohibited.

If an athlete or coach tests positive for the coronavirus, the entire team is required to quarantine for two weeks, per CDC and Department of Health recommendations.

Following orders previously handed down by the governor's office, the PIAA is not allowing family members, friends, or spectators to attend pre-K-12 sporting events. Associate Executive Director of PIAA Melissa Mertz has previously said she is hopeful Wolf will eventually allow spectators to attend.

The PIAA has also said it's not forcing schools to commence fall sports. Norristown School district has already decided not to proceed with their fall sports seasons.

Back in June, Gov. Wolf's administration said PIAA schools could resume voluntary sports-related workouts.

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association said its board would meet on Friday and have more to say on Wolf’s recommendation.

“We are tremendously disappointed in this decision,” the association said in a statement released late Thursday. “Our member schools have worked diligently to develop health and safety plans to allow students the safe return to interscholastic athletics.”


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