HARRISBURG, Pa. (EYT) – During a press conference on Thursday morning, Governor Wolf recommended that no sports be held in Pennsylvania until January 1, 2021.
According to a press release issued on Thursday afternoon, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Department of Education jointly recommended that Pre-K–12 school and recreational youth sports be postponed until at least January 1, 2021, to protect children and teens from COVID-19.
The administration is providing this strong recommendation and not an order or mandate. As with deciding whether students should return to in-person classes, remote learning or a blend of the two this fall, school administrators and locally elected school boards should make decisions on sports.
Highlights of the recommendation to pause youth sports until Jan. 1, 2021:
- Applies to team and individual, school and non-school recreational youth sports;
- Includes competitions, intramural play and scrimmages;
- Continue conditioning, drills and other training activities on an individual basis;
- Does not apply to collegiate and professional sports;
- Gathering limits remain unchanged – no more than 25 persons may gather indoors and 250 outdoors.
The administration is updating existing sports guidance to reflect this recommendation.
The administration recognizes the importance of getting children back to school, while also protecting the safety and well-being of students and educators. Guidance for schools is available. The guidance represents endorsed best public health practices related to social distancing, face coverings, hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfecting in school settings. It also outlines how to accommodate individuals with disabilities or chronic conditions, procedures for monitoring symptoms, and responding to confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 in the school community.
According to a published article on pennlive.com, when Governor Wolf was asked about PIAA’s recent announcement that high school sports would resume in the fall, he reiterated that he believes sports should not be held for the remainder of the year, adding that “we ought to avoid any congregate settings.”
The PIAA’s board of directors last Wednesday voted unanimously to move forward with a plan for fall sports. The plan would have included a normal schedule and a number of precautions.
While the PIAA had given their approval, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine declined to endorse the decision, stating the same data being used to make decisions about sending students back to their classrooms should also be used to make decisions regarding athletics.
On July 14, the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) voted to suspend all mandated conference athletic events and championships through the fall semester in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All fall and winter sports scheduled to begin before January 1 were impacted by this decision. The Conference plans to evaluate the necessary schedule changes and will communicate its plans for moving all competitions to the spring semester at a later date.