Like many other states, Rhode Island has a decision to make with not only reopening schools, but also students taking part in athletics for the fall season. As Covid-19 cases continue to rise in recent days in New England's smallest state, the plan to reopen schools has been a nightmare from the beginning. We know what the MIAA is planning on doing in regards to fall sports.
On Wednesday, RIIL Executive Director Michael P. Lunney held a virtual news conference to discuss the planning of when fall sports will be eligible to begin.
"No formal decision has been made on fall sports" Lunney said during the press conference. Lunney showed via PowerPoint presentation on what the sports could look like.
"The vote to delay the start of fall sports from August 17 to September 14th" This delay allows schools, families and students to adjust to the unique challenges of reopening schools for education and lesarning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The later start date for athletes will also avoid many of the institutional concerns usually attributed to the beginning of athletics prior to the start of the school year."
Lunney also mentioned that, if everything goes well and depending on what the states guidelines are at, practices for fall sports may begin on September 14, along with potential scrimmages. Actual games will start no later than Friday October 2nd. Lunney also stated that he recommends that schools consider having games strictly on the weekends but will allow schools to decide to have games played during the week.
As of right now, fall sports are slated to begin on September 14th, while the winter sports start date will be determined at a later date. If in the event that sports are not permitted to begin on September 14, a new start date has yet to be determined. A spring sports start date will also be determined soon.
Lunney was asked if student athletes would be tested everyday during the season. He said that they have not yet released those plans as of yet, however there could be a chance that the students will be tested everyday. Lunney has been told from school districts that they are committed to following the governors guidelines.
Another reporter asked if there is a chance that fall sports could be moved to the spring, and spring sports be shifted to the fall. Lunney said that is a consideration but they are not looking at the model right now given the fact that they do not want to force the students choose between their fall sport or the spring sport.
Pressed on what the schedules would look like, whether they would be by division or regionally, Lunney said he has spoken to Athletic Directors across the state and they will develop a plan on how many games each school will plan and figure out ways to be creative and keep kids close to home, especially if the RIIL has to worry about contact tracing if there continues to be an uptick.
The RIIL is trying make the best decisions possible when it comes to fall sports. The goal right now is to have all fall sports to be played in the fall but will not rule out the possibility of some fall sports to be impacted if the state does not move forward in the reopening phases.
Lunney's goal is to work around the framework that is in place right now is to have sports continue on. If there any draw backs in terms of schools reopening and the spike in cases, the only other alternative is to cancel fall sports but Lunney hopes that it does not come to that point.
Right now the plan is for fall sports to start on September 14, but that date could be pushed back as well, depending on when schools are slated to open in the fall.
This is a plan that can be altered at any given time, due to the guidelines that the state rolls out in regards to schools reopening and how sports can play a factor for the student athletes.