The WIAA announced Tuesday that it is pushing back the start of the fall sports season to Sept. 5 for football and Sept. 7 for the rest of the sports because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The original start dates were Aug. 19 and 24, respectively.
“The (Executive) Board will continue to work with staff, member schools and state agencies to monitor the impact of COVID-19,” a posting at WIAA.com read. “The Board plans to make its next statement concerning the start of fall sports on July 22 following its next scheduled meeting. In the interim, a committee of Board members, staff, and select WIAA stakeholders will work to create a fall schedule with the adjusted start dates.”
Late last month the WIAA released its return-to-play health guidelines, which were approved by the Washington State Department of Health. The document details how each fall sport can move forward with practices and then competitions during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The document’s framework is tied specifically to Washington’s Safe Start four-phase plan for reopening the state and individual counties.
Yakima County is in a modified Phase 1 (1.5) on the four-phase scale after new cases have fallen into double digits recently after many days of triple digits.
Each fall sport has been assigned one of three risk factors — high (football), moderate (volleyball, soccer, softball, swimming relays) and lower (cross country, swimming individual). Competition in lower-risk sports could be held in Phase 3 counties with moderate-risk competitions allowed for those in Phase 4.
Each of the moderate-risk sports “could potentially be considered lower risk with appropriate cleaning of equipment and use of masks by participants,” according to the guidance.
The spring sports season was halted in mid-March and eventually canceled.