PORTLAND, Ore. — The start of the high school football season in Oregon has been delayed indefinitely, and games and competitions for other fall sports have been pushed back to the end of September.
The executive board of the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA), which oversees high school sports in the state, made the announcement Wednesday after meeting for three days to discuss options for fall sports while following state health and safety guidelines designed to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Football, because it is considered a full contact activity, is currently prohibited under the guidelines of the governor and Oregon Health Authority, according to the OSAA. If there is going to be football in the fall, restrictions would need to be lifted by Sept. 28, the OSAA said.
“If fall activities aren’t able to be held in the fall, the OSAA Executive Board is committed to working with its contingency groups to exhaust all options for these activities including shifting, condensing, or stacking seasons, like our neighbors in Washington and California, with the fundamental objective of providing participation opportunities for students,” the OSAA said in a press release. Washington announced on Wednesday that the high school football season was delayed until the spring.
In Oregon, cheerleading and dance/drill are also considered full contact activities, and therefore currently prohibited as well.
As for cross country, volleyball and soccer, the first day of games has been pushed back from Aug. 27 to Sept. 23. The first day of practice for these sports remains Aug. 17.
The OSAA said pushing the start of competitions back a month gives time for schools to focus on their overall reopening plans, which are still unclear for most districts. The OSAA’s executive board will meet again the week of Aug. 3 to discuss the future of fall sports, with the anticipation that additional school reopening information will be known.
“Just as schools will not look the same in the fall of 2020, it’s clear that school sports and activities will not either,” the OSAA said.
Many parents throughout the state have been pushing for the return of high school sports, and the OSAA said it shares that same enthusiasm.
“It’s important to remember that any participation that can be done safely is a positive step forward for the physical health and mental well-being of students and their communities,” the OSAA said.
Summer workouts are currently allowed but schools must follow guidelines set out by the OSAA, which were created with guidance from state health officials and the governor’s office. For example, football workouts for counties in Phase 2 can include limited sharing of balls and equipment within pods of athletes but no contact with other players is allowed.
The push for the return of high school sports, and reopening of schools, comes as COVID-19 cases continue to be on the rise in Oregon. There have been more than 15,000 known cases during the pandemic. Last week, Oregon reported 2,409 new cases, a 26% increase from the previous week.
The Beaverton School District paused all practices for fall sports due to the increase of COVID-19 cases in the area. Hood River Valley High School suspended practices for two weeks after an outbreak involving student-athletes.