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Gov. Wolf recommends all youth, school sports be postponed until 2021

PITTSBURGH — When it comes to school and youth sports, Pennsylvania guidance is that they shouldn’t be played until Jan. 1, Gov. Tom Wolf said Thursday.

Following Wolf’s comment made at the end of a news conference, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Department of Education jointly recommended that pre-K through 12th grade school and recreational youth sports be postponed.

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Here are the highlights of the recommendation to pause youth sports until Jan. 1, 2021, that were sent from the governor’s office:

  • Applies to team and individual, school and non-school recreational youth sports;
  • Includes competitions, intramural play and scrimmages;
  • Continue conditioning, drills and other training activities on an individual basis;
  • Does not apply to collegiate and professional sports;
  • Gathering limits remain unchanged - no more than 25 persons may gather indoors and 250 outdoors.

While the governor’s statement on Monday wasn’t a formal announcement, it raises a lot of questions for school districts in western Pennsylvania as they finalize back-to-school plans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Wolf’s latest remark about sports in Pennsylvania comes after he said Monday that if students aren’t physically in class, there shouldn’t be any sports.

Some districts are offering options for online, in-person or hybrid learning. Pittsburgh Public Schools, however, will have online classes only for at least the first nine weeks of school.

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During a news briefing Monday, Wolf said what happens in school should be consistent with what happens on the playing fields.

“In other words, if the school is going completely virtual, seems hard to justify having in-person contact sports being played in the fall,” Wolf said.

Some high school teams in our region are set to have their first preseason practices and scrimmages in a few days, but after the state’s recommendations, there is no telling if school sports will even happen in the fall now.

A Pittsburgh Public Schools spokesperson said a decision about athletics has yet to be made.

“I think I’m trying to allow for different situations in different parts of the state because we do have some diversity in that their sports decisions and their education decisions are going to be governed by what’s going on locally,” Wolf said.

WPIAL officials had questions about what Wolf said Monday.

“I think it’s a huge impact for all the districts and, hopefully, that decision will be changed and left more up to the individual school districts instead of a blanket statement for the entire state in regards to online learning,” WPIAL executive director Amy Scheuneman said.

Wolf clarified his comments Thursday by saying professional and collegiate sports are not included in his suggestions.

PIAA officials responded on Twitter, saying they are “tremendously disappointed.” Read their full statement below:

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