PORTSMOUTH — Simply put, after the Ohio High School Athletic Association put up the stop sign in mid-March, there was no green light given in April.
And now, following Thursday’s OHSAA memo to member schools, the red flag will remain up throughout ALL of the month of May.
That’s because the OHSAA has announced — on the coattails of Wednesday’s directive from the Ohio Department of Health — that it is once again extending its current mandatory dead period.
That no-contact period, which was set to expire after Sunday and which has been in place since March 16 in response to the threat of the coronavirus, has been officially extended thru Sunday, May 31 —wrote OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass.
As ALL of Ohio’s school districts are now closed for the remainder of the academic year, there was widespread speculation within the past two weeks that the OHSAA would indeed extend its dead period — especially after its survey taken two weeks ago of member school administrators.
But, whether anybody’s opinions mattered or not, the ODH closed that door with Wednesday’s announcement that school facilities in Ohio which provide kindergarten thru 12th-grade instruction are indeed to remain closed thru Tuesday, June 30.
That order, officially overseen by ODH Director Dr. Amy Acton, “shall remain in full force and effect until the State of Emergency declared by the Governor no longer exists, or the Director of the Ohio Department of Health rescinds or modifies this order.”
On Thursday, the OHSAA e-mailed its member schools asking them to comply.
The closure of school facilities includes all athletic facilities for any interscholastic training, practice or competition.
“Through a call to ODH, it was clearly stated that this extends to all school facilities as well and includes stadiums, baseball/softball diamonds and tracks,” wrote Snodgrass. “This clearly prohibits all schools from making their facilities available to club/travel/non-interscholastic sports during this mandatory shutdown. While we have no authority over each school’s facilities, our oversight to complying with this is the mandatory no-contact period.”
Electronic communication is still permitted, but coaches are encouraged to maintain correspondence and provide workout information to individuals only —not to organize for small-group instruction or practices.
Thursday’s memo was the latest in a series of communications from and actions by the OHSAA, which included an April 20 announcement that ALL 2020 spring sports seasons were officially canceled.
That expected announcement piggybacked an hours-earlier announcement by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, who declared that the state’s schools would be closed for in-person attendance for the remainder of the academic year.
The OHSAA is currently in a dead period — which went into effect on March 16 to coincide with DeWine’s original order that ALL Ohio schools, both public and private, be closed effective on that date.
DeWine’s original announcement that schools be closed came on March 12, as Snodgrass sent a memo to member schools the following day to officially announce the mandated no-contact period.
At the time, the no-contact period was set to expire after April 5.
In a March 31 memo, Snodgrass wrote that the dead period was extended thru May 1, and that no practices or competitions may occur through that day.
Snodgrass wrote: “This is to assist with the Governor’s ‘stay at home’ order, to prohibit coaches from privately meeting with student-athletes AND to put all schools on an equal level relative to future competitive opportunities.”
That particular date was in sync with what DeWine issued on April 2 — an extension of his mandate that the Buckeye State’s schools remain closed AND that the state’s “stay-at-home” order remain in effect until then (May 1).
But while May 1 came and went on Friday, and although there were modifications to that “stay-at-home” order in an attempt to “re-open” Ohio in “phases”, OHSAA activities thru May 31 and school facilities thru June 30 are off limits.
As to why those two dates don’t align you ask?
In another e-mail to member schools on Thursday, Snodgrass gave his reasoning for not extending the dead period thru June.
“Though the current order for shutting school facilities is in place through June 30, we felt there would be a chance this could be pulled back to an earlier date,” he wrote. “Putting the no-contact period in place until June 1 would provide flexibility in the event it would be. IF it were pulled back to June 15 (example), the OHSAA’s No-Contact Regulation would extend to the same date.”
But for now, the OHSAA’s stop sign remains steadfast.
The memo also addressed issues of eligibility and fall sports schedules, to which Snodgrass stated:
*Eligibility: “Since schools are utilizing many different grading methods, decisions on fall eligibility requirements will be released well in advance as well. While an obvious decision may be understood to be the best solution to fall eligibility, it is our intent to keep students engaged as long as possible before giving any update. Look for that toward the end of May.”
*Fall Schedules: “Certainly, there are many unknowns. It is premature to release any of the many plans we have and are currently working on. However, every potential scenario is being discussed just in case so we can be prepared. Whether fall sports are delayed, played without fans, shortened (hopefully NONE of those)…but all scenarios are being worked on just to be prepared.”
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Information from the Ohio High School Athletic Association was used in this story
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved