As Kentucky high school sports for the 2020-21 school year remain in a holding pattern, at least three states bordering the commonwealth have given athletes the go-ahead to begin offseason activities.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced lifting of some COVID-19-based restrictions in a release to superintendents, principals and athletic directors on Thursday, WSAZ reported.
Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton amended a school closure order to allow school districts to determine usage of their own athletic facilities. Athletes in all sports may begin individual skills training on Tuesday.
Spokesmen for the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association and the Missouri State High School Activities Association each said in emails to The Daily Independent that this time frame is within the bounds of their state sports calendars and that, in compliance with government guidelines and restrictions, schools can hold workouts.
“The TSSAA sports calendar would allow them to practice, condition, etc., at this point,” TSSAA spokesman Matthew Gillespie said. “However, we have given guidance to schools that they should continue to follow any restrictions or guidelines in place by the state, CDC or local school system administrators.”
Missouri schools can hold summer practice and competition as soon as the school’s 2019-20 academic year is over or after Memorial Day, whichever happens first, said MSHSAA spokesman Jason West.
“Schools must follow local guidelines which may be more restrictive that what our governor has announced,” West said. “For the fall, practices are scheduled to start on Aug. 10 with competitions starting Aug. 28. This has not changed from our current by-law language. There may be changes, however, depending on what schools are allowed to do according to our state's department of education.”
The Virginia High School League is in the process of developing plans for the reopening of fall sports, it said in a press release Tuesday. The VHSL is deferring to direction from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, it said.
“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,” VHSL executive director Dr. Billy Haun said in the 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.”
The Illinois High School Association has not finalized plans for emerging from pandemic-related restrictions, IHSA assistant executive director Matt Troha said in an email Wednesday. He added the association expects to have updates late this week or early next week.
Attempts to contact spokespeople for the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission and the Indiana High School Athletics Association for comment were unsuccessful.
The last COVID-19-related IHSAA press release as of Friday afternoon was on May 6, in which the association announced the suspension of any school-sponsored sports activities through June 30, in response to a state school closure order.
The WVSSAC website has no posted updates about its plans going forward.
Northeastern Kentucky fall sports teams routinely compete against opponents from Ohio and West Virginia, and not infrequently against teams from Virginia.
Kentucky remains in a pandemic-induced dead period through at least the month of May. The KHSAA has said it will continue to follow the guidance of the CDC and government at all levels, which commissioner Julian Tackett most recently reiterated in a Zoom press conference on May 8.
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