CIF State offices could give high school fall sports the green light by July 20

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Games and competitions for the fall sports high school season could begin in late August with team practices starting a few weeks before. Valley News/Connor Moore photo

Guidelines offered for schools as they plan their return to practice/games

CIF State officials and the commissioners of the 10 high school sports sections met for three days recently to go over all things high school sports and announced Friday, June 12, that a decision will be made by July 20 whether the fall sports should begin as scheduled. Since mid-March, all high school sports activities in the state have been shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the effort to give as much time as possible to make the most informed decision we can,” Rob Wigod, commissioner of CIF Southern Section, explained in a news release. “It was agreed that there will be an announcement from the CIF State office addressing the status of fall sports to be made no later than July 20.”

Wigod also said, “There was a lengthy discussion regarding the various scenarios that relate to fall sports.”

Games and competitions for the fall sports, which are football, cross-country, boys’ water polo, girls’ golf, girls’ tennis and girls’ volleyball, could begin in late August with team practices starting a few weeks before that.

School districts will determine when sports activities will resume at their schools, but the districts acknowledge they make decisions based on recommendations and actions by the CIF State, which includes the Southern Section and L.A. City Section.

School districts will determine when sports activities will resume at their schools, based on recommendations and actions by the CIF State, which includes the Southern Section and L.A. City Section. Valley News/Jerry Soifer photo

If the CIF State recommends July 20 that the fall sports should begin as currently scheduled or that they should be pushed back in the academic year or canceled, it will likely impact what the school districts decide to do. The CIF State and sections do have control over postseason events, such as section playoffs and regional and state championships.

“The message I want to convey to all of you is that we are totally committed to having fall, winter and spring sports during the 2020-2021 school year,” Wigod said. “I want to remind you that the decisions to reopen our schools, and subsequently bring back athletic programs after they have started their academic year, will be made entirely by each local superintendent/school board from a public school district or each private school head of school/school board who have the authority to make those decisions. I am sure they will follow the recommendations of state and local health authorities in arriving at the decisions that are in the best interests of their students and school communities.”

According to the CIF State press release, “The CIF (state) is prepared to offer alternative calendars if it is determined by July 20 that fall sports may not start as scheduled due to ongoing public health and safety concerns.”

Coaches and administrators can attest to the fact that rumors have been swirling about the high school football season being pushed back to January if it is decided that the season shouldn’t start in the fall due to health concerns.

The CIF State office also released guidelines, which are only recommendations, for schools to follow regarding a return to practices and games. The guidelines included social distancing practices and some athletes and officials wearing cloth face coverings, in accordance with state and local health official recommendations.

CIF State also released updates on changes to financial hardship waivers and physical education examination waivers and said that due to the financial impact on families, there will be modifications to the hardship waiver for fall sports.

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 virus, and the resulting financial impact on many families, a waiver of Bylaw 207 may be granted for a student who transfers to a new school during the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year when there is a demonstrated and verifiable hardship condition due to financial difficulties. In assessing whether a financial hardship will be granted, the family must provide evidence of an unforeseeable, unavoidable and uncorrectable act, condition or event resulting from the coronavirus that necessitated the transfer of schools. As verification of the financial hardship, the section will require a statement from the family which outlines the unforeseeable, unavoidable and uncorrectable act, condition or event resulting from the coronavirus that necessitated the transfer of schools along with the following documentary evidence.”

Also, since scheduling a physical is more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic, CIF State is giving families an extra 30 days to get physicals completed for fall sports, as explained in its physical examination waiver release.

More information can be found at http://www.ciftstate.org.

JP Raineri can be reached by email at sports@reedermedia.com.