Pa. health secretary: Data will guide state’s approach to high school sports

Tuesday, July 28, 2020 | 8:11 PM

The PIAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee strongly recommends starting high school sports on time, but Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine declined to endorse that decision Tuesday.

Levine said the same covid-19 data that’s being used to determine how schools reopen should guide whether interscholastic sports are played in the fall.

“We’re going to be looking at all of those different pieces of data, not only in terms of return to school, but also in terms of sports,” Levine said. “All of that is being considered. We want to make sure that we have the best data before those decisions are made.”

The SMAC met online last week and agreed unanimously that PIAA sports could start on time “so long as essential safety guidelines and protocols are adhered to by participants,” according to meeting minutes.

Levine, who conferred last week with the PIAA, was asked about the SMAC’s decision during a press conference Tuesday.

The SMAC wrote: “Based on currently known information, the Committee believes that strict adherence by schools and teams to their school-adopted plans and the Governor’s School Sports Guidance should provide a reasonably safe environment for student athletes to participate in interscholastic athletics as currently scheduled.”

The PIAA board, which meets Wednesday, has said sports will start as scheduled unless Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration says otherwise. Heat acclimatization for football starts Aug. 10.

Practices for all fall sports begin Aug. 17.

PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi noted last week that recreational leagues are already competing with less oversight than school-sponsored teams, so Lombardi saw no reason why interscholastic athletics shouldn’t resume.

“Our schools are doing a terrific job with their health and safety plans,” Lombardi said. “They’re creating a safer environment than those recreational programs. So, why shouldn’t the safer environment get the opportunity to play too?”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at or via Twitter .

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