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WIAA delays start of fall sports practices until September

UPDATED: Tue., July 7, 2020

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association announced Tuesday it was delaying the start of fall sports practices.

“During its July 7 meeting, the WIAA Executive Board took action to delay the start of the fall season until Sept. 5 for football and Sept. 7 for all other fall sports,” the press release stated.

“The Board will continue to work with staff, member schools and state agencies to monitor the impact of COVID-19.

“The Board plans to make its next statement concerning the start of fall sports on July 22 following its next scheduled meeting.

“In the interim, a committee of Board members, staff, and select WIAA stakeholders will work to create a fall schedule with the adjusted start dates.”

Sept. 7 is Labor Day, a federal holiday.

Football practice was originally scheduled to start on Aug. 19, with the rest of fall sports practices starting Aug. 24. The first day of classes for Spokane County Schools is scheduled for Aug. 29. The football season was scheduled to begin Sept. 4.

All of this is subject to which phase under Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-phase plan each individual county is in at the time.

As the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Spokane County, it still falls under Phase 2, which the guidelines issued by the WIAA on June 22 prohibits contact, restricts the number of participants (players and coaches total) allowed to be grouped together for instruction to six, and maintains the distancing of 6 feet for all participants, even in noncontact sports.

Competition can begin for “low-risk” noncontact sports (cross country, swimming) under Phase 3, “moderate risk” sports (volleyball, soccer) may begin in Phase 4. The guidelines remain unspecific when “high-risk” sports (football, wrestling) may begin competition.

The WIAA guidelines for return-to-play also state, “When a school or district closes due to COVID-19, there should be no practice, training, or competition among athletes in that school or district,” and the “possibility of some teams having to isolate or quarantine for two to three weeks while in-season, possibly multiple times.”

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