HARRISBURG, Pa. (WYTV) – Fall without high school football? That might be the case in Pennsylvania following a recommendation by Gov. Tom Wolf.
Many high schools in the state have already begun preparations for the 2020 fall sports season.
But Wolf ended his Thursday press conference with a strong recommendation that no sports take place until January 1.
“The guidance is we ought to avoid any congregate settings — and that means anything that brings people together is going to help that virus get us — and we ought to do everything we can to defeat the virus at any time,” he said.
According to a press release from governor’s office:
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 include:
- 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 people may gather indoors and 250 outdoors
- The administration is updating existing sports guidance to reflect this recommendation
A few hours after the governor announced his recommendation, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Department of Education released a statement supporting it to “protect children and teens from COVID-19.”
Officials with PIAA said they were “disappointed” by Wolf’s statement, saying they have been working to develop a plan that allows for the safe return of interscholastic athletics.
Now schools are waiting on a decision from the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA). The PIAA Board of Directors is expected to make an official statement Friday afternoon.
“It was very unexpected,” said Madeline Hoffman, athletic director at Hickory High School.
She said she gets calls from coaches who are confused about what lies ahead.
“Just like we did in the spring, we will get through it no matter what happens and we’ll roll with the punches.”
“We’re going to do the best we can to get through this the best and safest way possible, and I guess everybody just has to be patient,” said John Niemi, athletic director at Kennedy Catholic.
Both athletic directors said they’ll do whatever is required by the state and PIAA regarding sports. They hope they can have some sort of season for the students, coaches and community.
“Everybody is going to do whatever it takes to make sure — whatever we do, whatever the PIAA sets for us — we will do whatever it takes to keep the kids safe and ensure that we are going to have a season,” Hoffman said. “Honestly, I would bend over backwards for these kids and for these coaches to make sure they have a season.”