RENTON — The start of the 2020-21 high school sports season will be delayed by at least two weeks, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s Executive Board announced.
Tuesday night’s decision pushes back the start of football practices to Sept. 5, and the start of other fall sports to Sept. 7.
“The Board will continue to work with staff, member schools and state agencies to monitor the impact of COVID-19,” a WIAA statement read. “The Board plans to make its next statement concerning the start of fall sports on July 22 following its next scheduled meeting. In the interim, the committee of Board members, staff and select WIAA stakeholders will work to create a fall schedule with the adjusted start dates.”
The start of fall football practices had been slated for Aug. 19, with the first games scheduled for Friday, Sept. 4.
With the new Sept. 5 start date and a minimum requirement of 12 practice days for football, the first day that prep football games could be played is now Saturday, Sept. 19, unless teams are allowed to practice on Sundays or the minimum-practice requirement is shortened.
Most of the other fall sports have a minimum requirement of 10 practice days, meaning the earliest those sports could start their seasons is Sept. 18.
A clarification was issued by the association Wednesday afternoon.
“The action was taken in an attempt to relieve pressure of member schools as they prepare for the opening of schools to in-person and/or online learning.”
Sequim and Port Angeles schools are expected to begin the 2020-21 school year on Sept. 2 and 3, respectively. Port Townsend and Chimacum will begin Sept. 8.
Per the reopening-to-activity guidelines set by the WIAA last month, practices and competition are also contingent on which reopening phase each county is in.
Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee put a two-week hold on approving any county to move up in phased reopening, delaying Jefferson County’s application for Phase 3 status. Clallam County leaders previously tabled a Phase 3 application days before Inslee’s pause.
Teams can begin broader group workouts under Phase 3.
The WIAA said the Executive Board will review other options for fall “sports should further delays become necessary” during its July 21 meet, with any decisions to be announced July 22.
“The Executive Board recognizes this recent action creates many questions, and it will work to provide answers on July 22,” the clarifying statement said.
“In the interim, we suggest schools avoid any rescheduling of games … until a decision is made on how the delayed start impacts the fall season.”