High school sports face delays while waiting for guidance

Jermaine Johnson II

Tulare County high schools are still awaiting guidance from the state, but another delay is possible

TULARE COUNTY – Normally by this point in the year, some high schools would be preparing to suit up for a Valley Championship game. However the 2020-2021 season for high school sports in Tulare County was postponed until December, and may possibly be delayed further.

On July 20, the central section of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) announced they would modify the current season by pushing sports to winter. Practice is still set to begin on Dec. 7, and the first contest is scheduled for Dec. 28. However due to the dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Gavin Newson has released new restrictions across the state including a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for non-essential work and gatherings. As a result, it is possible that the season may be in a holding patteran again. And the state has yet to release any official plan to get kids back on the field, much less a schedule.

Gov. Newsom also placed most of the state under the purple-tier restrictions, which is the most restrictive tier in the state’s reopening blueprint. Currently, there is not much guidance on what the different colored tiers mean for high school sports. If high schools in Tulare County are not back to offering full time in-person instruction, it will be unlikely that sports will return. The county must be in the red tier for 14 days to begin the reopening process. By the time students are back in school, CIF guidelines require 10 days of practice.

According to California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly, they are very close to getting out more official guidance related to high school sports.

“We are working hard to get that done. Timing is everything and cases are rapidly going up at the moment,” Ghaly said during Newsom’s press conference on Nov. 16.

“We want to make sure as we move forward with something as important as youth sports that we do it with eyes in front of us, hoping that we set it up for success. So as it happens we don’t have to pause it or stop it down the road.”

Due to the lack of official guidance plus the increase in COVID-19 infections, Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency Administrative Specialist II Cory Silva deems it safe to assume that sports in Tulare County will not start on time. However there can be no official declarations without further guidance from the state.

If sports are delayed, the schedule will likely remain the same and teams will start when they’re able to. That is according to Exeter Unified High School (EUHS) Athletic Director Andew Montes, and he says the hope is that sports can resume by the start of league play. It is currently unclear what will happen to the games that are missed, since rescheduling will be difficult under the current circumstances.

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