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Fall sports decisions delayed

High schools in the area are still awaiting word from athletic governing bodies with specifics on what the fall 2020 sports season will look like.

The Virginia High School League (VHSL) announced in a Thursday, June 25, press release that its executive committee had met in a special session for the purpose of discussing the league’s fiscal year 2021 (FY21) budget and fall sports.

“With the commonwealth currently in Phase 2 and moving to Phase 3 in the reopening process on July 1, VHSL staff did not bring forth any recommendations for fall athletic schedules,” officials said in the release.

They added that the VHSL Executive Committee did vote to hold additional meetings in July and August as more information becomes known.

“All our efforts are working towards advocating for the opening of sports and activities in a safe and reasonable way,” VHSL Executive Director Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun said in the release. “As we move forward, it would not be reasonable to release at this time a fall schedule or calendar until we learn more about future phases.

“We are committed to getting this right and getting our students participating in activities,” he added. “I think we can make a much better informed decision once we have more parameters and possible restrictions.”

Because of VHSL staff not bringing forth any recommendations for fall athletic schedules, area public school athletics directors had little to report with regard to their fall plans.

“We are planning but not instituting anything yet,” Prince Edward County High School Athletics Director Rodney Kane said.

Fuqua School is part of the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA), a governing body which also announced in a June press release that it was taking a wait-and-see approach.

“While question marks currently exist with every school’s potential return-to-play plan, we feel that it’s better to wait for a more accurate forecast prior to making decisions too early in the process,” VISAA Executive Director Richard H. Kemper Jr. said in the release. “We will be required to be flexible and adaptive as we navigate this pandemic.”

In that release, however, the VISAA did offer a “Return to Fall Sports 2020” table providing more detailed information regarding its position on each sport. The VISAA noted this table was updated as of June 5 and is subject to change.

The table stated that in Phase 2, lower-risk sports include cross country and golf, with participants required to be six feet apart; and tennis, with the requirement of singles play only.

For Phase 3, adjusted requirements for those three sports are to be determined, the table noted. Meanwhile, field hockey, soccer and volleyball are listed as being at a moderate risk level, and football is listed as being at a higher risk level. Phase 3 requirements for all sports are listed as “To Be Determined.”

Fuqua Athletics Director Mike Edwards said Sunday, June 28, Fuqua is happy to start fall sports workouts while continuing to maintain social distancing regulations.

“We are waiting to hear from VISAA on how to proceed, but we are continuing on as if we will start play in the fall until further notice,” he said.

He indicated that football preseason has been allowed to proceed.

“We can continue to have workouts, as we have submitted our reopening plans,” he said. “If we receive any updates from VISAA, we will go ahead and make those changes.”

Explaining what is meant by “workouts,” Edwards said Fuqua student-athletes can lift weights and can also be active on the field, running plays without a ball involved.