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March 1, 2021

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Start of high school sports season will be delayed at least two weeks, WIAA says

The first day of practice for football is now Sept. 5, two days later for other fall sports

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor

The start of the 2020-21 high school sports season will be delayed by at least two weeks, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association announced late Tuesday.

The decision was made during an Executive Board meeting Tuesday to push back the start of football practices to Sept. 5, and the start of other fall sports to Sept. 7.

“The Board will continue to work with staff, member schools and state agencies to monitor the impact of COVID-19,” the WIAA statement read. “The Board plans to make its next statement concerning the start of fall sports on July 22 following its next scheduled meeting. In the interim, the committee of Board members, staff and select WIAA stakeholders will work to create a fall schedule with the adjusted start dates.”

The start of fall football practices had been slated for Aug. 19, with the first games scheduled for Friday, Sept. 4. With the new Sept. 5 start date and a minimum requirement of 12 practice days for football, the first day that prep football games could be played is now Saturday, Sept. 19, unless teams are allowed to practice on Sundays or the minimum-practice requirement is shortened.

Most of the other fall sports have a minimum requirement of 10 practice days, meaning the earliest those sports could start their seasons is Sept. 18.

Boys golf has no minimum practice requirement.

The WIAA clarified its statement Wednesday afternoon, saying “the action was taken in an attempt to relieve pressure of member schools as they prepare for the opening of schools to in-person and/or online learning.”

Most school districts are starting the 2020-21 school year on Sept. 1 or Sept. 2. This delay allows those schools to complete the first week of instruction before commencing fall sports practices.

Per the reopening-to-activity guidelines set by the WIAA last month, practices and competition are also contingent on which reopening phase each county is in.

Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee put a two-week hold on approving any county to move up in phased reopening, meaning teams in several counties have not been able to start team summer workouts. Currently, 17 counties in the state are in Phase 3 of reopening, 17 others (including Clark and Cowlitz counties) are in Phase 2 and five more are in a modified Phase 1.

The WIAA said the Executive Board will review other options for fall “sports should further delays become necessary” during its July 21 meet, with any decisions to be announced on July 22.

“The Executive Board recognizes this recent action creates many questions, and it will work to provide answers on July 22,” the revised statement read. “In the interim, we suggest schools avoid any rescheduling of games … until a decision is made on how the delayed start impacts the fall season.”