Fall high school sports? Unknown at this time.

Infections, hospitalizations and deaths continue to increase during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic and two states announced rollbacks in their plans to reopen businesses, restaurants and other activities Friday.
Tyler Fenton hauls in his first of two TD catches in a football game last year.

Like so much else in these pandemic-driven days, high school sports remain in a holding pattern.

The Virginia High School League (VHSL), which regulates sports for schools in the Old Dominion, deferred action on a decision on if athletic activities may begin. The group suspended all high schools after the first round of the state high school basketball tournament finals more than three months ago.

“The Virginia High School League staff is not ready to give any recommendations for fall athletic schedule,” VHSL Executive Director Billy Haun said after a called executive meeting this week. ““We’re going into Phase 3 on July 1st, but that’s still two months before we reach Labor Day. It’s very possible the health data will continue to be good. But the data may go up. We’ve got states that are spiking.”

On Friday, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported that infections of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic have topped 60,000 cases with more than 6,000 hospitalized and 1,700 deaths.

Infections rose by 624 cases in Friday’s report along with 55 more deaths.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has set Jul. 1 for implementation of Phase 3 of his “reopening” plan but while Virginia’s increases are not setting new records, other states have set daily records for several days straight and 29 states, including Virginia, continue to see increases in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

In early April, Floyd County had no cases of the virus. Friday’s report shows 15 cases, 2 hospitalizations and one dead.

“In Phase 3, we’re still talking about social distancing. I don’t understand how you can think about playing team sports while you’re social distancing,” Haun said after Thursday’s VHSL meeting.

He adds:

We’re going into Phase 3 on July 1st, but that’s still two months before we reach Labor Day, It’s very possible the health data will continue to be good. But the data may go up. We’ve got states that are spiking.

I think we can make a better-informed decision in four weeks, eight weeks from where we are now. We don’t know how schools are going to open. We have no idea how long we will be in Phase 3, two weeks, four weeks, two months, six months?

–Billy Haun

Another issue, he said, are finances.

“One of the things we have to acknowledge is how much can we afford a full slate of athletic activities if we don’t have the gate receipts to pay the officials to pay for the workers, not to mention the transportation,” Haun said.

In addition:

I think there’s a lot of issues yet to be determined. Because of that I hate to disappoint a lot of people that are expecting us to come out today and say, ‘Here’s the schedule for the fall.”

–Billy Haun
In a Floyd County High School volleyball match last fall, Haylee Dalton returns a rapidly sinking shot from Nelson County while Mallorie Gardner and Jaycee Dalton watch.

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