PIAA Still Moving Ahead With Fall Sports

The PIAA continued its plans to move ahead with the 2020 fall sports season, including cross country, after a Wednesday Board of Directors meeting that took place over Zoom.

Questions have been swirling about the viability of a fall sports season in Pennsylvania amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the PIAA has maintained that the season -- for now -- will take place this season, though it will come with safety protocols along with other measures.

The state association decided two weeks ago that it plans to move ahead with the fall sports season on time, and in this follow-up meeting the PIAA approved the recommendations from both the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) and the Cross Country Steering Committee.

The PIAA also released its "Return To Competition" guidelines with individual sport considerations, including XC. These measures were passed convincingly by the board of directors.

Flexible scheduling is another measure the PIAA has taken. Because COVID-19 has had a varying impact across the state of Pennsylvania, the PIAA has allowed individual schools and leagues/conferences to start their season later than the official start dates of the season. "Regular," "Alternate," and "Hybrid" starts to the season are among the options and school districts are allowed to start at a later date if they choose.

In the SMAC guidelines that were approved, a highlight is that if one student from a team tests positive for COVID-19, that whole team would need to quarantine for 14 days. The report admits, "that may have an effect on fall sports and affect schedules and competition."

The "Return To Competition" guidelines is a 25-page document that uses the motto "Protect Yourself, Protect Others, Protect the Season." Included in the document are general considerations that apply to all sports, as well as an individual section for cross country. One of the main points included in the document is that spectators are currently not allowed at competitions.

Among the cross country considerations for the season include the establishment of social distancing protocols, discouraging the use of team tents, and teams providing individual water for their athletes.

The next PIAA meeting is scheduled for August 26. At that meeting, the PIAA will assess how the season has gone up to that point and make new recommendations, if necessary.