School administrators around Arizona have another two weeks to try and determine the best way to reinstate school-related athletics and activities, following Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order earlier this week to delay the start of on-campus learning until at least Aug. 17.
The Arizona Interscholastic Association, in response to the executive order, subsequently pushed back the starting dates of practice for all fall sports and activities, and delay the start of competitive seasons for all of its 272 member schools.
With schools previously unable to begin the new academic year until the beginning of August, the AIA, the sanctioning body for high school athletics and activities in Arizona, was planning to send out surveys to member school principals regarding reopening procedures. But with the new timeline in place, rather than do surveys in July, the AIA “will continue to meet with the numerous stakeholders and prepare to create alternative sports schedules,” organization representatives said in a press release issued Monday evening.
“We couldn’t be more disappointed about the information that just came out regarding our schools. However, we understand that the most pressing concern is to ensure our student-athletes can return to school in the safest way possible,” Executive Director David Hines said. “We will do everything in our power to make sure that when we get back up and going again, the transition will be as seamless as possible and to create memorable interscholastic experiences. And we’ll be able to accomplish that as long as everyone does their part to stay safe and prevent the spread of the virus.”
School principals will receive surveys at a later date to more closely coincide with the state’s target date of reopening schools.
The governor’s executive action means members will continue to operate under summer rules as per AIA Bylaws and Sports Policies until schools are officially reopened.
Arizona is still currently in Governor Ducey’s first phase of statewide reopening. Additionally, member schools should continue to follow the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee’s recommendations for phase 1 activity.
While some sports such as auto racing, golf and rodeo have resumed events with limited attendance, social distancing, and the use of personal protective equipment, most sports in more confined settings are grappling with the issue of reopening.
Many events have been postponed, waiting to see how the coronavirus outbreak develops, while others have gone “virtual” through e-sports.
Some community college administrators in Arizona are ready to cancel all sports for the upcoming year. Last week the presidents of the Maricopa County Community Colleges asked the district’s chancellor to cancel all sports for the 2020-21 school year, but some see it as part of an ongoing effort by some academicians to get rid of all sports.
Exact dates for the beginning of competition for Arizona high schools will not be finalized until the AIA gathers much-needed information from the schools to present to the AIA Executive Board for consideration. If revised timelines for the fall interfere with the winter sports season, those schedules will also be addressed at a later date. Additional information will be shared as the association navigates through these developments.
“For everyone, please stay safe and vigilant in our fight against the Coronavirus,” said AIA Sports Information Director Seth Polansky. “Following health department guidelines and taking proper precautions will go a long way for schools to be able to reopen.”