WIAA sets fall sports for February

By: 
Taylor Newquist
Sports Editor, Statesman Examiner

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association has again altered its schedule for returning to high school sports, after Gov. Jay Inslee announced the new ‘Healthy Washington — Roadmap to Recovery’ plan last week.

It is the seventh change to the WIAA’s guidelines or sports schedule since last June, as the association attempts to get high school athletes back on the field during the ever-changing restrictions that come with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The newest plan is to move traditional fall sports to the front, beginning with practices on Feb. 1 and spanning seven weeks of competition through March 20. Traditional winter sports—basketball and wrestling for area schools in the A and B leagues—are deemed high risk and are the only sport that cannot resume competition under the new Inslee plan.

“The change in guidelines allow all traditional fall sports to be played in Phase 2 while we still do not have a clear pathway to the high risk indoor activities of basketball, competitive cheer and dance, and wrestling,” WIAA executive director Mick Hoffman. “With that in mind, moving fall sports to Season 1 will hopefully provide the most opportunities to participate.”

The Roadmap to Recover consists of two phases and breaks down the entire state into eight regions: East, South Central, North Central, Northwest, Southwest, West, North and Puget Sound. The East region consists of Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Lincoln, Spokane, Adams, Whitman, Garfield and Asotin counties.

Each region begins in Phase 1, where low and moderate risk sports can resume practice outdoors and low risk sports can practice indoors. For the fall season beginning in February, cross country and girls soccer will be able to begin practices in Phase 1. To reach Phase 2, the entire region cumulatively will need to reach a ‘low’ criteria in four metrics:

  1. A decreasing trend in two-week rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population.
  2. A decreasing trend in two-week rate of new COVID-19 hospital admission rates per 100,000 population.
  3. ICU occupancy total of less than 90%.
  4. COVID-19 test positivity rate of less than 10%.

Regions will have data collected on each of the categories every two weeks to see if they are eligible to enter Phase 2. Once a region progresses into Phase 2, low and moderate risk indoor competitions and up to high-risk outdoor competitions may resume. That would allow all traditional fall sports to be played, but would rule out traditional winter sports if the current guidelines remain. Traditional winter and spring sports schedules will be reviewed at a Jan. 19 meeting.

For the current fall sports schedule to be played on time with all sports, regions must advance to Phase 2 when the data is collected on Jan. 22.

Read the full story in the Jan. 13, 2021 edition of the Deer Park Tribune.

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