MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PA — There have been no clear and easy answers for school districts around Montgomery County on reopening plans, with many planning on offering hybrid options and switching to a virtual-only start to the 2020-21 school year.
And unfortunately for students, the lack of clarity, abundance of indecision, and lingering delay has transferred over to fall sports, too.
Gov. Wolf announced two weeks ago that no organized sports should take place in Pennsylvania until Jan. 2021, shifting his administration’s official guidance in the wake of a reported increase in transmission of coronavirus in youth sports leagues over the summer.
This was followed last week by the decision of the Big 10 to cancel all fall sports, meaning there will be no Penn State football season. While this has no immediate correlation to the status of scholastic athletics, the move had a national ripple effect: one of the nation’s largest collegiate athletic conferences had decided this was not safe.
The PIAA remains adamant that they can play fall sports safely, and they’re joined by student and parent groups who express confidence in the exhaustive safety measures and protocols put in place. At Springfield Township High School in Montgomery County, a group of dozens of athletes and families joined together for a “Let Us Play” rally on Tuesday, as 6ABC reported.
At the local level, leagues like the Pioneer Athletic Conference have opted to delay the start of the season, in hopes that this will give school officials more time to make their final decision. Their conference will begin practices on Sept. 7, with the first competition currently delayed to Sept. 25. But many schools seem to be awaiting some sort of consensus, not just from their conferences, but from the PIAA, health officials at large, and Gov. Wolf’s administration.
While the Wolf administration’s guidance is that there should be no fall sports, the state has not explicitly prohibited it. It remains unclear if the PIAA, which previously announced a delay of mandatory practices for the fall season, will abide by Gov. Wolf’s recommendation or go ahead without the blessing of the state’s top health officials.
As far as individual districts go, many have declined to thus far issue a formal stance on fall sports, with some moving tentatively forward following PIAA’s guidance, and others in a holding pattern with their local conferences. Meanwhile, a few, like Norristown, have said they will not be participating in any scholastic athletics in 2020.
A meeting of the PIAA Board is scheduled for this Friday, Aug. 21.
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