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VHSL to decide fate of fall sports July 27

Area public high schools will have to wait a little bit longer before learning whether or not there will be a fall sports season and what it will look like.

John W. “Billy” Haun

The Virginia High School League (VHSL) Executive Committee met in special session Wednesday, July 15, and voted unanimously to meet Monday, July 27, to vote on the three recommended models presented at Wednesday’s meeting for reopening sports and activities.

This announcement came in a VHSL press release that stated the committee voted to delay the beginning of fall sports until a final decision is made July 27 and also suspended the July-August dead period for 2020, which means schools can continue out-of-season practice activities.

The release summarized the three models presented to the executive committee for the opening of fall sports/activities:

Model 1 — Leave all sports in their current season. Low and moderate contact risk sports that would be allowed are golf and cross country. High risk sports that would not be played are field hockey, football, volleyball and cheer. Fall activities that would be allowed include theater.

Model 2 — Switch the fall and spring seasons. Low and moderate contact risk sports that would be allowed in the fall are track and field, tennis, soccer, baseball and softball. High risk sports that would not be played are boys/girls lacrosse. Spring activities that would be allowed are theater, forensics/debate and the film festival.

Model 3 — Delay all VHSL sports and adopt the Condensed Interscholastic Plan. Leave all sports in the season where they are currently aligned.

Season 1 (Winter) Dec. 14-Feb. 20 (First contest date — Dec. 28)

Season 2 (Fall) Feb. 15-May 1 (First contest date — March 1)

Season 3 (Spring) April 12-June 26 (First contest date — April 26)

“It’s important to remember that in all these models, playing sports in the high-risk category depends on being out of the current Phase 3 (reopening) guidelines,” VHSL Executive Director Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun said in the release. “All our efforts will continue towards advocating for the opening of sports and activities in a safe and reasonable way that will protect athletes, activity participants, coaches, officials and the public. “The VHSL will continue making judgments based on the best available information and directives provided by the governor, the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Education.”

Shannon Butler, VHSL executive committee chairwoman and principal at York High School, said the goal in all the committee’s discussions has been to provide student-athletes and activity participants the best opportunity to return to the playing fields, courts, track and stages during this coming school year in as safe an environment as possible.

“Our decision today will allow members of the executive committee to collaborate with the regions and groups that they represent to make a decision on July 27 that is in the best interest of our students,” she said in the release. “Moving forward — our ultimate goal would be to have all of our student-athletes the opportunity to safely represent their schools on the playing field during the 2020-21 school year.”