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COVID-19 alters sports schedules

Athletics at all the levels The Herald covers — college, high school and Dixie Youth — have been affected by the novel coronavirus and the efforts to keep it from spreading.

Following are reports on how athletics governing bodies, schools and leagues in the area are responding.

HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETICS

DELAYED FOR TWO WEEKS

The Virginia High School League (VHSL) will delay the spring sports season for two weeks in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, according to a Friday, March 13, announcement from VHSL Executive Director Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun.

This impacts Buckingham County, Cumberland County and Prince Edward County high schools.

“After continuing to assess the impact of COVID-19, we convened the VHSL Crisis Management Committee, and it was decided that the best course of action and most prudent at this time was to delay spring sports first play date by two weeks,” Haun said in the announcement. “The VHSL continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 and will continue discussions with public health officials and key stakeholders.”

The announcement stated the first play date for spring sports will now be Monday, March 30. It originally was Monday, March 16.

Also Friday, March 13, Virginia Gov. Ralph S. Northam ordered all K-12 schools in Virginia to close for a minimum of two weeks.

This includes private schools, like Fuqua School.

Fuqua Athletics Director Mike Edwards confirmed all Fuqua athletics activities, including practices, will be canceled through March 27.

“Hopefully we are back to normal after the 27th,” he stated.

The VHSL outdoor track championships, tennis championships and the VHSL Spring Jubilee are not affected by the two-week delay, and all championships are still scheduled on their original dates, officials said in the VHSL announcement. The Crisis Management Committee will meet again Wednesday, March 25, to re-evaluate current conditions.

While the VHSL’s Friday announcement stated local school divisions would have the authority to schedule spring practices, this changed Saturday, March 14, as noted in Haun’s blog.

“On Saturday morning, Dr. James Lane, superintendent of public instruction for Virginia, provided clarification to school superintendents that during the two weeks that Virginia’s public schools are closed, all school-sponsored activities, including athletics and practices, are not allowed,” Haun wrote.

The Friday announcement concluded by noting that any game not played due to this delay, or a school division not being allowed to travel, will not count as a forfeit.

BIG SOUTH SUSPENDS REQUIRED ATHLETICS ACTIVITIES THROUGH MARCH 30

The Big South Conference, which includes Longwood University, announced in a Friday evening, March 13, press release that all competition and required athletics activities have been suspended through at least March 30 to mitigate the further spread of COVID-19.

The release stated that the decision was made by the league’s Council of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) with consultation from the Council of Athletics Directors to protect the health and well-being of student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans.

“The CEOs shall again convene in the near future to evaluate activities beyond March 30, including the status of the conference championships,” officials stated in the release.

Longwood had already announced either the postponement or cancellation of its competitions across all sports from Thursday, March 12, through Wednesday, March 18.

ODAC SUSPENDS CONFERENCE REGULAR SEASON COMPETITION INDEFINITELY

The Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) announced Friday, March 13, all conference regular season competition was suspended indefinitely beginning Saturday, March 14.

Hampden-Sydney College is a member of the ODAC.

The ODAC press release noted the decision came after conference officials closely monitored the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on operations at ODAC member institution campuses.

Officials stated in the release that the conference will maintain regular communication with its member institutions to monitor the landscape and evaluate its response, and ODAC leadership will continually review the status of the suspension and adapt as circumstances dictate.

YOUTH LEAGUES DELAY START

OF SPRING SEASONS

Dixie Youth Baseball Inc. (DYB) announced Friday, March 13, it was recommending its leagues delay the start of the 2020 DYB regular season in an effort to help stem the spread of COVID-19.

“We request that DYB leagues suspend all activities that involve the gathering of individuals for games and/or practices until after April 4, 2020,” officials said in the DYB press release.

The Prince Edward-Farmville Youth Association (PEFYA) announced Friday, March 13, that its board had met and decided to postpone all spring sports until March 28.

“We have our monthly meeting on March 26, and we will re-evaluate the situation at that time,” officials said in the announcement. “PEFYA will still continue to receive baseball and softball registrations until March 28.”

Buckingham County Youth League (BCYL) President Mary Stearrett said Monday, March 16, that the BCYL has canceled everything for the next two weeks.

“And then another decision will be made at the end of those two weeks,” she said. “We’re kind of following the school. School is shut down for two weeks, so we’ve shut everything down for two weeks, and we’re going to see what (it’s like) in two weeks, and then we may be shutting it down for good.”

As for DYB’s recommendation of starting after April 4, Stearrett said it may end up being that weekend that BCYL returns to action.

Cumberland Parks and Recreation Director Travis Gilliam, representing Cumberland County’s youth league, stated Friday, March 13, that the league had suspended all Dixie Youth Baseball and Dixie Softball activities until a date to be determined.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and hope to lift the suspension as we know the environment is safe to all participants,” he said. “We have taken the Dixie recommendation into consideration and will continue to follow them on our decision to resume.”

Gilliam stated that if the league, which is run through the county’s recreation department, starts before the date recommended by DYB, no child will be excluded if they decide to come on the date recommended by DYB.