COLUMBUS, Ohio – In a memo to its member schools on Wednesday, the Ohio High School Athletic Association reaffirmed its position that the upcoming winter sports seasons will begin as previously scheduled. While individual school districts can pause sports at any time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the OHSAA does not intend to alter the statewide season dates, according to an OHSAA news release.
The decision reportedly came after discussions with the Governor’s Office, the OHSAA board of directors, OHSAA staff and many school administrators, along with the results of a recent survey of OHSAA member school administrators. Of 1,464 survey responses 826 respondents (56 percent) voted to begin winter sports as previously scheduled.
The survey results showed 33 percent of school administrators favored delaying winter sports until early January, and 11 percent voted to delay winter sports indefinitely until statewide COVID-19 conditions improve.
The OHSAA noted that as it relates to school sports, the governor’s 10 p.m. Ohio curfew order does not mean that teams and fans must be home from their competitions by 10 p.m., but that venues must be vacated by that time. The OHSAA is encouraging schools and conferences to alter start times, if needed, so that competitions end in time to close the facility by 10 p.m.
OHSAA recommended that all mandates in the Ohio Department of Health Director’s Sports Order must continue to be followed for winter sports. Here is a link to the Health Director’s Sports Order: https://bit.ly/2RWa1jh.
Here is a link to the Health Department’s Responsible RestartOhio guidance document for sports: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/Youth-Collegiate-Amateur-Club-Pro-Sports.pdf.
Here is a link to the ODH’s Responsible RestartOhio guidance document for sports venues: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/Sports-Venues.pdf.
It is especially important, OHSAA suggests, that requirements for facial coverings, social distancing and frequent hand washing be followed and that facility hosts disinfect and clean competition and high contact areas frequently. The order puts a limit on spectator capacity at 15 percent of fixed, permanent seats or 300 spectators, whichever is less.
The OHSAA staff has developed sport-specific requirements, recommendations and modifications for schools when conducting interscholastic competition in winter sports. Links to the sport-specific requirements, recommendations and modifications for winter sports are available here:
Ice Hockey: http://bit.ly/IHRecs
Swimming & Diving: http://bit.ly/SDRecs