COLUMBUS — The Ohio High School Athletic Association said all winter sports seasons will begin as previously scheduled and “reaffirmed its position” to get the seasons started amid a statewide spike in COVID-19 cases, according to a memo sent to high schools this week.
The decision made by the OHSAA Board of Directors came after the organization had discussions with Gov. Mike DeWine’s office and school administrators, an OHSAA spokesperson said in a media release Friday. Additionally a survey of OHSAA member school administrators found 56 percent voted to beginning winter sports as scheduled.
While the OHSAA plans to move forward with the start of the seasons, officials said individual school districts are able to pause sports at any time due to the pandemic.
“Though we are seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases in Ohio, the majority of our member schools want the opportunity to move forward with winter sports as planned,” Doug Ute, OHSAA Executive Director said in the release.
“As always, the decision to play sports is a local school decision and there will certainly be schools that pause sports for periods of time in the months to come, but if the majority of our schools want to move forward, then we want to provide that opportunity,” Ute said.
In same OHSAA study, 33 percent of school administrators were in favor of delaying winter sports until January while 11 percent voted to delay indefinitely until COVID-19 conditions improve, the spokesperson said.
OHSAA officials also issued guidance on how the statewide, 21-day curfew order effects high school sports. Venues hosting competitions must be vacated and closed by 10 p.m.; however teams and fans that traveled to competitions do not have to be home by the 10 p.m. curfew.
“The OHSAA encourages schools and conferences to alter start times, if needed, so that competitions end in time to close the facility by 10:00 p.m.,” the spokesperson said.
Previous orders from the Ohio Department of Health, regarding facial coverings, social distancing, and capacity limits for crowds remain in effect for all winter sports. The ODH order states the lesser of either 15 percent of fixed, permanent seats inside a venue or 300 people will be allowed to attend.
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