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WIAA releases updated process for return to play

by STAFF REPORT
Staff Report | October 2, 2020 12:55 AM

By CASEY MCCARTHY

Staff Writer

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association released an update on Sept. 19 to better clarify the process of returning to sports and activities. The WIAA worked with the Washington Schools Risk Management Pool and Clear Risk after talking with the governor’s office and the Washington Department of Health in developing the list of steps before a return to play is possible.

The steps required, according to the WIAA’s Sept. 19 release, include the following:

  1. Governor to recommend return to play
  2. Department of Health to provide guidance on required steps to return to play
  3. Risk management to review any new recommendations in response to the governor and DOH
  4. School leadership to commit to play; most would consider return to play once students are able to return to school even in a hybrid model; coaches under collective bargaining agreements would need to support return to play
  5. WIAA Executive board to review current schedule with new recommendations

The WIAA said in its press release that everyone, from government officials to school leadership, must work in unison to create the best environment for high school athletics to return. This will ensure the safest possible option for competition as well as an equal opportunity for students in all sports around the state.

The WIAA staff and executive board said they will continue to work on creating and developing a flexible framework for practice and competition to resume safely. All organizations involved in the process will continue to monitor guidelines as new information becomes available, which could change the current recommendations on activities.

Pending a change from the governor’s office, DOH and OSPI on regulations and guidance, the WIAA executive board will monitor the following considerations, according to a statement on Sept. 19:

  1. Do schools have the resources and ability to meet any new recommendations that may come from the governor’s office and DOH?
  2. Would a limited fall season provide more, or less, opportunity for a majority of WIAA participants?
  3. What would students gain by playing in the fall rather than the revised scheduled seasons?
  4. What is a realistic start date for a fall season if recommendations and guidelines change? How much time is needed for students to return safely?
  5. Would a late fall start disproportionately impact fall sports such as golf, tennis and cross country due to weather issues?
  6. Allow competition between schools that desire to play contests during the open period currently scheduled Sept. 28-Nov. 30.

The WIAA said it understands the desire of athletes and coaches to return to play and said its top priority remains safety while offering equal opportunities for everyone.