The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association said Wednesday it was planning for high-school sports to return in the fall, but creativity will be key as it negotiates the coronavirus pandemic.
The WIAA said in a release that it is intending to begin practices as normal (Aug. 19 for football, Aug. 24 for the other fall sports), as long as it has the OK from the Washington State Department of Health. It is looking at a later start to the season (Sept. 5 for football, Sept. 7 for the rest) as a contingency.
The WIAA also said it intends to conduct a season even if schools are still open only remotely and if some schools can’t participate because of the coronavirus, as long as it has the OK from WSDOH. And it will push forward even though areas of the state will be different phases of reopening under Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start Washington” plan.
“The Executive Board determined that the primary mission of the WIAA is to provide opportunities in education-based athletics and activities,” the organizations said in a release. “Participation in extracurricular sports and activities is a critical part of the high-school experience and, sadly, that has never been more evident than when those opportunities were taken away this spring by COVID-19.”
WIAA executive director Mick Hoffman said Sunday more specifics about how this fall would look will start to become clear after guidance for school reopening is released from the governor’s office. That is expected to be released this week.
The WIAA has created committees, made up of coaches, administrators, officials and students to look at each sport and create guidelines for what is needed to play and stay safe.
“The WIAA Executive Board and staff recognize that participation will need to take place in a setting that does not jeopardize the health and well-being of students or their communities, which is why we will continue to think creatively as an organization while also working with health officials at the state level,” the release said.