PHOENIX — After voting 5-4 on Friday, Jan. 8 to halt the winter sports season due to the continued presence of COVID-19 and having the nation’s highest rate of coronavirus hospitalizations, the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Executive Board reconsidered its position based on feedback from its member schools.
After additional debate and consideration, Executive Board members voted 5-4 to reinstate the winter sports season with the modifications published on Nov. 30, 2020, along with the additional modifications:
All students, coaches and officials will be required to wear a cloth mask or gaiter for the entirety of a game/contest.
Each school will complete the AIA COVID-19 Athlete/Coach Monitoring Form the day of all games/contests and provide a copy to the opposing school prior to the contest.
Up to two parents or legal guardians may attend their student-athlete's home games as allowed by the school and county guidelines.
Any school that violates any of the mandatory modifications, including the COVID-19 Return to Play Form, will lose access to AIA officiating.
A joint statement released from the Executive Board states, “This has been a very challenging situation. While we all desire to have our high school students in school and participate in interscholastic sports and activities, we feel it is imperative to consider the recommendations of medical professionals based on their expertise. Reinstating the winter season poses a risk to the healthcare system, which could impact students who may be injured. We believe that these additional modifications will serve to mitigate this risk as much as possible. Our member schools and families must understand how critical it is to adhere completely to all modifications.”
The situation will be closely monitored and re-evaluated in the upcoming days and weeks. Once hospitalizations decrease to more acceptable levels, the Executive Board may also reconsider additional sport-specific modifications and the allowance of fans.
Executive Director David Hines added, “This has been a very difficult decision for the Executive Board. They have been weighing the concerns of the medical community, including the AIA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, and the requests by our member schools. We all want winter sports to happen, but it must be done safely.”
The winter season is reinstated to commence on Monday, Jan. 18.