N.C. high school sports season pushed back again due to Phase 2 extension

N.C. high school sports season pushed back again due to Phase 2 extension
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association announced the start of fall sports will be delayed beyond September 1, in a statement by the commissioner on Thursday. (Source: Office of Gov. Roy Cooper)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The North Carolina High School Athletic Association announced the start of fall sports will be delayed beyond September 1, in a statement by the commissioner on Thursday.

The move comes one day after Gov. Roy Cooper announced that N.C. would remain in the “Safer at Home” Phase 2 of reopening until at least Sept. 11.

“Unfortunately, this announcment means that the start of sports for the 2020-2021 school year will be delayed beyond September 1 for NCHSSA member schools,” Commissioner Que Tucker said.

Tucker added that NCHSSA officials are working on a schedule and hope to have an announcement by Aug. 17.

“We want to play sports during this upcoming school year and are making plans to do so; however, the health and safety of all participants, including coaches and other essential staff, will be a priority as decisions and plans are made,” Tucker wrote.

Previously, on July 27, Tucker announced that sports would be held back until “at least” Sept. 1 after Cooper announced the state’s school reopening plans.

“As you know, Governor Cooper announced yesterday the reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year. He also indicated that the NCHSAA would be making the decisions relative to sports,” read the statement, which outlined the following calendar and rule changes for North Carolina high school sports this fall.

· The start of NCHSAA fall sports is delayed until at least September 1.

· The first five (5) student days of the 2020-2021 school year will be designated as a “dead period” for ALL sports, allowing school staff to focus on the start of school.

· NCHSAA Phase One of the summer conditioning and workouts will continue until further notice.

Gov. Cooper recently announced schools across the state will reopen in August under “Plan B,” allowing both in-person and remote learning.

The “Plan B” approach lets students participate in a mix of in-classroom and remote learning. This plan involves some students potentially rotating schedules, with some students not coming onto campus at all.

Schools will also be allowed the option of completely virtual learning, as laid out in N.C.‘s “Plan C.”

“For now, we believe these steps provide hope for our student athletes, and the possibility for playing fall sports We know that many decisions are being made relative to the reopening plan your school(s) will follow,” said Commissioner Que Tucker in a previous statement regarding the Sept. 1 timeline.

Here is the rest of Tucker’s statement:

“After each LEA has had an opportunity to formalize and finalize those reopening plans, the NCHSAA Staff will survey the membership to determine how sports should and/or can fit into the various models that will exist across the state. Please understand this delayed start date is not “in cement” and can be delayed even further if we do not have improved data from DHHS, or some other reason exists for delaying further into September or beyond.

We acknowledge that playing certain sports are more problematic at any time without a vaccine; however, we remain in consultation with our Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) members, and they believe we can and should offer a sports program, with all necessary modifications, delays, etc. In the coming weeks, we will continue working with the SMAC as we plan our next steps for the fall, as well as determining when equipment could be shared—i.e. balls— and/or if we can move into Phase 2 of the summer workouts/conditioning.

Each NCHSAA Board Member believes in the value of education-based athletics and is committed to SAFELY offering a fall, winter, and spring sports program during this school year; however, there is also a commitment to the health and safety of students and coaches. Towards this end, we all will continue to follow the guidance of the Department of Health and Human Services relative to the data and how we all safely move forward. We are in this together, and we will play again!”

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