The Virginia High School League announced additional details Tuesday regarding its plans for member schools to reopen fall athletics and activities for the fall of 2020.
In compliance with possible state directives from Gov. Ralph Northam, Virginia Department of Education, the Virginia Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control to open schools this fall, the VHSL is moving forward with plans.
The league’s top priority is for its member schools to put the health, safety and well-being of its student athletes, activity participants, coaches, administrators, officials and supporters first. That can only happen if and when the Governor deems its safe for students to return to the classroom. When that happens, schools can then return to practice and ultimately, competition.
“What we have been doing and will continue to do, is to strongly advocate for our student-athletes for a reopening of fall sports and activities” said VHSL Executive Director Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun in a press release. “We know much has been taken away from our students by the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to advocate for them and the return of high school athletics and activities. It is important to say, and many already have, as we develop plans there are more questions than answers. Because of that, we cannot put a timeline on when decisions will be completed and announced to the public until many of those questions become answerable.”
Haun said his staff continues to meet regularly with region superintendents, principals, athletic directors and the VHSL Sports Medicine Advisory Committee to discuss possible courses of action moving forward. In the coming weeks, VHSL staff is slated to meet with Coach Advisory Committees of all fall sports to develop reopening plans when the time is right.
The Coach Advisory Committee will discuss a variety of topics, including how and when the VHSL can return to sports and activities. The goal is to develop plans for multiple scenarios related to start dates, safety measures for resuming practices, regular season schedules as well as state playoffs for fall sports.
“We continue to fully support our Governor’s directives, work with advisory groups, government agencies, other states, and medical experts to come up with a safe and sound plan to implement sports and activities for the fall,” Haun said.
Haun, who also serves on the VDOE Return of School Recovery Task Force, has provided ongoing recommendations to the “Return to School Committee” for the VDOE. VHSL Associate Executive Director Tom Dolan and Director of Communications, Mike McCall, has also be a part of these discussions.
As a member of the National Federation of State High School Associations, the VHSL has also discussed options with other state organizations throughout the country to develop guidelines for reopening, as well as NCAA guidelines. The VHSL Sports Medicine Advisory Committee will use NFSHA Sports Medicine Advisory guidance for opening up high school athletics to create guidelines for Virginia’s schools.
Earlier this month, the VHSL Executive Committee announced they would push back a decision on the status of fall sports until its June 25 meeting to gain further feedback from Gov. Northam and other state-wide agencies.