PIAA Decision On Fall High School Sports Coming Friday

The Neshaminy Redskins at 2018 training camp. Photo by Ben Medland, Evan Easterling.

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association will vote Friday whether it will conduct high school sports this fall. Officials will be meeting virtually at 3 p.m., but regardless of their decision some schools in Lower Bucks are already opting out.

PIAA officials appeared before the Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee Tuesday. Executive Director Dr. Robert Lombardi told the committee “it is worth at least attempting to pursue a fall sports program.”

Lombardi informed the committee his statement was based on advice from medical advisors. He added not having school athletics will move the associated risks to other venues lacking sufficient oversight.

Lombardi also noted the PIAA pre-screened, at random, more than 30,000 student athletes for coronavirus. Only four tests came back positive.

Last week, Governor Tom Wolf strongly recommended to postpone high school and youth sports until at least 2021. Since then, PIAA officials have asked Wolf to rescind his recommendation.

However, Wolf stated his statement is not a mandate. PA Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said the administration will not replace the recommendation with an order.

GOP lawmakers in the state House have introduced legislation to give local school boards discretion. H.B. 2787 would protect against the possibility of a state order.

State Rep. Mike Reese (R-59) is the bill’s prime sponsor. He stated each school district should be able to make decisions based on the circumstances in its local area.

“The governor’s announcement to stop all high school sports until Jan.1 came as a complete shock to students, parents and even PIAA officials,” said Reese. “Why now, right before the academic year begins, are schools not able to make their own decisions about sports? Will similar announcements be forthcoming regarding other extracurricular activities?”

Meantime, some school districts in Lower Bucks are already cancelling fall sports.

The Morrisville School Board voted recently to approve virtual-only learning through February 2, 2021. This includes the postponement or cancellation of all fall sports.

The Pennsbury School Board will be voting Thursday evening whether to approve a similar plan. Superintendent Dr. William Gretzula and School Board President T.R. Kannan recommended going virtual through January 29, 2021.

Sports at the Neshaminy School District will also likely be cancelled or delayed. The school board voted to start to school virtually, though it may transition to a hybrid model in October.