Monday is the deadline for the California Interscholastic Federation to determine whether or not the 2020 fall sports season will proceed as currently scheduled or be delayed due to ongoing public health and safety concerns caused by COVID-19.
An announcement is expected by July 20 from the CIF, working in collaboration with the 10 sections throughout the state, to determine if alternative calendars will be implemented. The LA City Section, which includes Palisades High, is one of the 10 and Sports Information Director Dick Dornan, in an interview with SoCal Prep Report, offered his insight after the LAUSD announcement three days ago that its campuses will not reopen when the 2020-21 academic year begins August 18.
“The CIF will decide [July 20] when sports begin, whether or not students are on campus, but given LAUSD’s decision it’s looking like yes there’ll be a delay,” he said. “Commissioner Vicky Lagos met with the commissioners of all the other sections and the CIF state office over a three-day Zoom meeting to discuss the various contingency plans. The school districts, charter organizations and private schools dictate when schools will reopen and when extra curriculars like athletics can resume and in what phase and health guidelines are set forth by the various counties. For us, that’s LA County, it’s where all of our schools are located. So July 20 is when the CIF will make its decision, whether there’s a delay until September or October or even January.”
Hours after the LAUSD announcement Pali High Principal Dr. Pam Magee released a statement confirming the school is following LAUSD’s lead and will reopen in a 100 percent all-virtual model. Granada Hills, a City charter school like Palisades, made the same decision last week.
Dornan stated that fall sports could move to the start of the second semester: “As long as you have social distancing guidelines in place for high schools and a lack of testing, you can’t have contact sports. Right now the priority for LAUSD and our charter schools is to implement a safe reopening whenever that time comes and get students acclimated to the new guidelines set forth by the LA County Health Department. Of course our goal—and the goal for all sections—is to provide student-athletes with three seasons of sports. We don’t want to repeat what occurred in the spring.”
The Southern Section (the biggest with about 580 schools from San Luis Obispo to the San Diego County line) includes dozens of school districts and numerous private institutions. The City Section, meanwhile, is comprised of 156 member schools, 88 of which are LAUSD.
Should the athletic schedule be pushed back to January many multi-sport athletes will likely have to choose one sport. Facilities and field space will be another issue, as will finding enough officials for games.
“The three biggest obstacles are No. 1 the officials—there’s a shortage of officials in California in general and a lot of them do multiple sports,” Dornan added. “No. 2 is facilities. It’ll be a real challenge for athletic directors to find enough gym and field space for all these teams. No. 3 is multi-sport athletes. This may be one year where athletes sacrifice other sports to get their favorite one in. These are unusual times but we’ll have our calendars set and we’ll make the best of the situation.”
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