MECHANICSBURG, Pa. — After much debate over the issue of high school sports during the COVID-19 pandemic, the PIAA Board of Directors passed a motion with a vote of 25-5 to have the fall sports season begin on Monday, Aug. 24.
Parents, students and coaches were on pins and needles watching, waiting and wondering whether they will even have a fall sports season. To say teams are happy is an understatement. Coaches and players Channel 11 spoke with were thrilled the PIAA gave fall sports the green light.
“To get the green light, get the go ahead to start up with heat week next week, games, you know, within reach: it’s an exciting time, you know, for our players but our coaches are happy too,” said North Allegheny football coach Art Walker.
Some coaches want to have fans in the stands too.
“It brings back a little bit of that Friday night vibe. We have a tremendous plan in place. The ultimate deal is keeping our kids safe. That’s the number one thing we want to do while we play football,” said Pine Richland football coach Eric Kasperowicz.
The PIAA officially met at 3 p.m. and issued its final decision to determine whether sports can or cannot be played in the current climate with the ongoing pandemic.
Pennsylvania is the final state to officially make a decision.
The season was already delayed by two weeks.
Gov. Tom Wolf has strongly recommended that fall sports be delayed until January 2021, but said the decision is ultimately up to school districts.
In a statement sent to Channel 11 following the PIAA’s vote, a spokesperson for Gov. Wolf said:
“The Wolf administration has been in contact with representatives from PIAA as needed throughout the pandemic. While the administration expressed broad concern with the PIAA’s plans, including its request for liability protections, we’ve made it clear to them since July that this decision should be made by the PIAA in concert with local school districts. The governor has a deep appreciation for the importance of athletics and the role sports play in the lives of student-athletes. The governor’s recommendation is grounded in public health evidence and a common-sense reaction to league after league cancelling or postponing their fall seasons, outbreaks across the country, growing evidence of higher transmission in children, protecting higher-risk adults, and the fundamentally important need to get kids back into learning in classrooms. Every gathering outside the classroom jeopardizes a school’s ability to resume in-person instruction because it increases the risk of super-spreading events.”
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A Republican-sponsored bill that would give school districts power to make decisions on fall sports cleared a House committee Thursday.
The education committee also approved legislation that would give students the right to repeat a grade because of canceled sports.
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