Ever since schools shut down all across in the country back in March due to the pandemic, spring sports across the country were cancelled either immediately or canceled after failed attempts to get students back in the schools in April and May.
Massachusetts has had to make the same difficult decisions regarding their own 2020 Spring seasons and denying the chance to many Seniors to make their final marks on their high school careers.
As we get deeper into this pandemic and hopefully start to see some light at the end of the tunnel, the question now is whether fall sports in Massachusetts will be able to start on time. In a non-pandemic year, school fall sports practices tend to begin a week or two prior to the start of the academic school year. Well; 2020 is unlike any other year, and just like everyone else the MIAA has decisions to make.
After a putting it to a vote and getting recommendations from the COVID-19 Task Forces, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association has decided to delay the start of 2020 fall sports to at least September 14. This decision comes on the heals after many Massachusetts school districts voted to delay the start of the school year at least two weeks as well.
MIAA President Jeff Granatino said in a statement: "we do this with an understanding that our students desperately want to see a return to school athletics." Dr. Keith Crowley; who is a member at MIAA and principal at St. John's Preparatory School in Danvers, MA said about the MIAA: "they voted for this with a concern that if there were any positive cases for COVID-19 prior to the start of school, that it could end up hindering the ability for schools to open."
"If we can do sports. we'd certainly like to do it; but only if we feel like it can be done in a safe way. That may mean that we have to modify sports" said DESE Commissioner Jeffery Riley.
Granatino also mentioned: "we have to understand that there is no guarantee that sports will be allowed to take place but, as in the spring, it's been incumbent upon the associations to have plans in place if we are eventually told that we can move forward with fall sports."
There is still much uncertainty about how schools can and will reopen safely in the fall so that way these kind of extra curricular activities can take place. However, there was also a report that if schools do not reopen at all for the fall and it is all remote learning, then fall sports in Massachusetts will most likely ended getting scrapped either entirely or pushed back to the spring of 2021. That kind of vote or a discussion that being a possibility has yet to take place.
The MIAA was looking at other states such as New Jersey and the District of Columbia and try to mirror their plans to safely start off the fall seasons in a safe manner and determine how many games will be played. At this point in time, the first games are scheduled to begin on October 1st with the football season beginning the next day on October 2nd.
Given the tone of the statements if appears that the MIAA is expecting to have fall sports begin when schools are permitted to reopen in September. However, they will not hesitate to pull the plug on the fall season if students do not return to in-person classes come the start of the school year.
The final determination of MIAA fall sports will all depend what the official plans for schools to reopen. In the meantime the MIAA will continue to discuss guidance on how to approach the fall season. Riley hopes that more guidance will be announced by MIAA officials in early August.
Hopefully that fall sports will be able to go on as scheduled for Massachusetts, but it all depends on what the pandemic has for everyone in the coming weeks.