HARRISBURG, Pa. - The board of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association has voted to permit fall sports to begin on Monday, Aug. 24 based on local school decisions
The decision comes after weeks of discussions over resuming practices and competitions amid the coronavirus pandemic and Governor Tom Wolf's recommendation that sports not resume until Jan. 2021.
The PIAA board says the decision to compete in athletics, and which sports to resume, should ultimately be made by individual schools.
"The board believed that through each member schools' adherence to their devolved school health and safety plans and the PIAA Return to Competition guidelines sports can continue," said a statement released by the PIAA Friday.
The PIAA has previously said it was blindsided and “tremendously disappointed” by Wolf’s recommendation, which is not binding, and has insisted that fall sports can be held safely. For his part, Wolf has pointed out that major collegiate leagues have independently canceled fall sports.
The PIAA has also argued that school-sanctioned sports can help ensure compliance with pandemic safety measures. The organization recently published 25-page guide with heath and safety recommendations for each fall sport.
In Pennsylvania, some school districts and leagues have already canceled fall sports, including those in Philadelphia, Reading and Harrisburg, saying the risk of spreading the virus is too great, while others plan to play if they get the PIAA’s blessing. Several Pennsylvania high schools have already reported virus cases among athletes, prompting temporary shutdowns of sports programs.
A majority of the 32-member PIAA board consists of representatives from member schools, with seats also reserved for groups representing school boards, school administrators, athletic directors and coaches, among others. The state Department of Education also has a seat.
- Gov. Wolf sets Jan. 1 as recommended return date for sports in Pennsylvania
- PIAA believes school sports can resume despite Wolf's recommendation for a delay
- Philadelphia Public League suspends athletics until 2021, impacting thousands of athletes
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