By Brian Hoffman
The VHSL is kicking the can down the road in regards to possibly extending the high school sports season. The VHSL has not ruled out letting spring teams return to action once the school year is over, such as an abbreviated season or a tournament in the summer.
The VHSL held a conference call Tuesday morning with its VHSL Crisis Management team to discuss all options relating to spring sports and academic activities after the current academic year ends and into the summer. The VHSL Crisis Management team unanimously recommended to delay any final action until May.
“While we recognize the importance sports has on our students and communities, the COVID-19 threat is real and people need to follow all the regulations and recommendations from the CDC, Virginia Department of Health, and the Governor. We must make that our number one priority,” said VHSL Executive Director Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun. “The Crisis Management team overwhelmingly felt a decision on an extension to the spring sports season should be put on hold until May. Any options for the spring sports season will require that COVID-19 is no longer a threat and poses no health risks to our student-athletes or the public.
“This is extremely serious and a lot has to happen before May for us to extend the season. In every situation, every decision we make has been, and will be made in the best interest of our student-athletes and public safety.”
Last week Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared all schools in the Commonwealth closed for the remainder of year in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and all VHSL spring sports and activities have now been cancelled.
“We need to support our Governor and State Superintendent,” said Haun. “These actions were taken to protect Virginians, keep them safe and healthy and to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“Our Crisis Management team is made up excellent school representatives and has been vital in all deliberations regarding COVID-19. In every situation, every decision we make has been, and will be, in the best interest of public health, including that of, most importantly, our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, and families.”
In addition to discussing COVID-19, the Crisis Management team discussed at length other obstacles that would have to be resolved before implementing any options for the spring sports season for any athletes. To better assist stakeholder understand the vital issues discussed the VHSL has provided a list of Frequently Asked Questions.
1-Currently, the first week of July is a total dead period. Would schools be allowed to sponsor events?
The VHSL Executive Committee would need to take action and provide a one-time waiver to allow teams to practice and play.
2-How would the Amateur Rule affect student-athletes who would want to participate in an extended season?
Any athlete signing a Professional contract (Baseball has its draft and signing in the second week of June) will not be eligible.
3-Currently, the VHSL calendar has the Spring Sports seasons ending in June. Would holding practices and playing games in July be a violation of the Sports Season Rule?
Yes. The Executive Committee will need to approve a revision of the published dates for the end of the Spring Season.
4-Will student-athletes have insurance if practices and games occur in July? Parents are required to certify that the student athlete has insurance and respond to the following statement: The participant has student medical/accident insurance available through the school (yes___ no ___); has athletic participation insurance coverage through the school (yes___ no___); is insured by our family policy.
Students will be required to have a new physical beginning July 1 and parents will certify on the new form.
5-Will students who have graduated meet Enrollment/BonaFide Student Rules?
Students entering College and taking summer classes that are NOT part of any dual enrollment situation are no longer in high school which would violate both these rules.
6-Will 2019 – 2020 student (PPE) physical forms be effective for students to participate in July?
June 30 is the expiration date for the PPE (14 months of coverage). Students will be required to have a new physical beginning July 1.
7-If any games are played during the summer, will there be a state champion recognized for the 2020 season?
The answer is no. If there is an option to allow games to be played, there will be no 2020 VHSL Champions recognized for spring sports.