Covid-19 guidelines for PIAA sports won’t be ready this week
Thursday, June 4, 2020 | 5:27 PM
Athletes, coaches and high school administrators are growing impatient as more counties turn green, but they won’t see return-to-play guidelines for covid-19 until at least next week, according to a spokesman for the Pa. Department of Education.
The PIAA has said it won’t clear teams to resume offseason workouts without that guidance.
“The departments of Education (PDE) and Health (DOH) will engage with the PIAA and expect to have more information next week,” PDE spokesman Eric Levis said in an email Thursday.
Eighteen counties entered the “green” phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s color-coded reopening system last week and 16 others will join them Friday, allowing youth sports to resume in those areas. But guidelines to restart school-sponsored teams, anticipated for two weeks, haven’t been revealed.
PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi said May 27 that the PIAA was in a “holding pattern” waiting for guidance from the state.
Asked Monday about guidelines for the PIAA, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said: “I believe more guidance will come out this week.”
That timeline now shifts to next week.
Wolf’s education department released information Wednesday that allows schools to resume in-person instruction July 1, but noted specifically that “guidance for organized school sports will be published separately.”
PIAA teams have been banned from working out together since Wolf closed school buildings March 13, a week before most spring sports seasons were scheduled to start. That shutdown was extended April 9, when Wolf ordered building to remain closed for the rest of the school year.
The shutdown forced the PIAA to cancel its basketball tournaments, swimming championships and all spring sports.
The PIAA board voted May 20 to let schools resume offseason workouts on a county-by-county basis — once the governor approves — rather than force teams to sit and wait for the entire state to enter the green phase.
“I have kids at home that would love to be able to get out,” District 11 chairman Bob Hartman told the PIAA board in May. “Why should we deny any kid or group of kids, if they’re permitted, to do what they can do?”
The PIAA board was optimistic some schools would resume workouts before July 1, but that was never guaranteed. The governor could keep teams idle for the rest of this school year.
“We want to be able to give our member schools the best opportunity they can,” Lombardi said last Friday. “Right now (the 2020-21 school year begins) July 1. Anything earlier than that we think is a bonus.”
All WPIAL counties except Beaver will be green Friday.
Lawrence was among the first counties to turn green May 29. Allegheny, Armstrong, Butler, Greene, Fayette, Indiana, Washington and Westmoreland enter the green phase Friday.
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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