COLUMBUS, OH (WOWK) – The Ohio High School Athletic association says winter sports will begin as previously scheduled.
In a memo to member schools this week, the OHSAA said it does not intend to alter the statewide season dates, however, individual school districts can pause sports at any time due to the pandemic.
The OHSAA says the decision comes after discussions with its board of directors, staff, many school administrators and the governor’s office, as well as a recent survey of OHSAA member school administrators. According to OHSAA officials, 56%, or 826 of the 1,464 respondents voted to begin winter sports as previously scheduled. 33% of those surveyed favored delaying until early January and 11% voted to delay indefinitely until COVID-19 conditions across the state improve.
“Though we are seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases in Ohio, the majority of our member schools want the opportunity to move forward with winter sports as planned,” said OHSAA Executive Director Doug Ute. “As always, the decision to play sports is a local school decision and there will certainly be schools that pause sports for periods of time in the months to come, but if the majority of our schools want to move forward, then we want to provide that opportunity. As we have said previously, our member schools provide our student-athletes with the safest possible environment to participate. If we were to delay, students would find opportunities to compete in sports through non-school programs that may not be focused on safety and are not education-based.”
The decision in the Buckeye State comes just one week after West Virginia Governor Jim Justice issued an executive order delaying the Mountain State’s winter sports to Jan. 11, 2021.
OSHAA officials say Gov. DeWine’s 10 p.m. curfew for the state does not mean teams and fans must be home from their competitions by that time, however, venues must be vacated by 10 p.m. The organization is encouraging schools and conferences to alter start times if needed to end competitions in time to close by 10 p.m.
Mandates included in the Ohio Department of Health Director’s Sports Order must be followed in winter sports, according to OSHAA officials.
All mandates in the Ohio Department of Health Director’s Sports Order must continue to be followed for winter sports. This includes following the requirements to social distancing, facial coverings and frequent hand washing as well as facilities disinfecting and cleaning high contact areas frequently. The order limits capacity to less than 15% spectator capacity.