OSAA delays spring sports decision
The OSAA Executive Board held an online meeting on Wednesday to discuss the latest developments regarding the COVID-19 situation.
At the meeting the board elected to continue its current suspension of spring sports seasons through at least April 28, while still keeping state championship events on the schedule.
"The rapid changes that have taken place locally and nationally the last several weeks are unlike anything we've ever experienced," OSAA Executive Director Peter Weber said. "We are trying to make the most prudent decisions possible with the information we have at this time, while knowing that information could change in a moment's notice. Up to this point the board has aligned its decisions regarding the OSAA's education-based activities with the governor's school closure orders and plans to continue on that path."
The board also discussed information sent out from the Oregon Department of Education earlier in the week, which stated that there is a very real possibility that students will not return to school this academic year. I the governor orders that in-person student learning is shut down for the remainder of the school year, the OSAA will continue to align with the school closures and will cancel its spring activities and state championships.
The OSAA has been in contact with all spring state championship venues and shared potential challenges with the board.
Of particular concern, Western Oregon University has shut down all of its athletic facilities until June 30 and will not be able to host the 3A, 2A, 1A Track and Field State Championships. OSAA staff members are currently contacting other possible track venues to determine if there is interest and availability.
Board members reportedly discussed the possibility of shifting spring activities and state championships into the summer but were not in favor of the change at this time.
Concerns about pushing the state championships into the summer included the need for increased staffing and personnel costs for school districts, which may already be facing uncertain financial impacts as well as scheduling issues regarding facility availability plus student and family commitments for jobs, travel and other possible issues.
The OSAA staff has been working with Dr. Mick Koester, Chief Medical Advisor and chair of the OSAA's Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, to develop guidelines for student safety should schools be able to reconvene this spring.
Guidelines include requiring an initial seven-day period with practices only and no contests as well as limiting practice to once per day and no more than three hours in length.
The current requirement for no more than six consecutive days without a rest day would continue as well as continuing heat warnings and baseball pitch count limitations.
The board also discussed limiting the number of contests allowed per week in each specific activity with details for each specific sport to come later.
The board also recommended that should games and sports resume that late afternoon starts and weekend contests should be scheduled whenever possible to limit the loss of class time.
The board also sent a memo to all school districts concerning the current thinking of the board.
That memo can be found at http://www.osaa.org/today/article/1633/view?title=COVID+Update+-+April+1%2C+2020
The board has another online meeting scheduled for Wednesday, April 15 to discuss any new developments regarding the COVID-19 situation and take any actions they deem necessary regarding spring activities and state championships.
"As former participants and coaches, and current parents, the last few weeks have been very difficult," Weber said. "While we believe the decisions that have been made are the correct ones given our commitment to the health and safety of students — it doesn't make them easy. We've chosen to make high school activities our life's work because we see the tremendous impact they can have on young people."
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