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Ohio schools to begin fall practice

COLUMBUS — High School athletes competing in a fall sport are waking up this morning and heading for their respective practices.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association communicated to its membership Friday afternoon that fall sports seasons would open on time, meaning golf, volleyball, cross country, soccer and football are underway.

However, the contact sports — cross country, soccer and football — have yet to be cleared by the governor’s office for competition between schools. No timetable was presented for that occurring either.

Golf season will be the first to begin competing and that comes on Wednesday. Volleyball is also clear to compete in scrimmages and against its regular-season schedule.

“It is important to keep athletic activity moving forward,” said Dan Leffingwell, president of the OHSAA Board of Directors and superintendent of the Noble Local Schools in Sarahsville. “And with that, we believe our member schools provide our student-athletes with the safest possible environment to return to play and that our school programs are the best avenue to help students learn life-long lessons and provide social, emotional and physical benefits that other programs cannot. Moving forward allows those students to continue to be engaged with their school coaches and teammates. Membership data also supports this decision.”

The membership data of which Leffingwell spoke stemmed from a survey that the OHSAA sent out earlier this week that consisted of six questions. The data has also been shared with the governor’s office.

The decision to move forward on schedule took many by surprise as several school districts in metropolitan areas around Ohio announced that their extra curricular activities are all suspended for the time being as schools have decided to go to online learning for at least the first nine weeks.

There are some districts that aren’t going to be allowed to compete until at least October unless restrictions are loosened by their respective county’s health department.

Some of the areas affected by shutdowns are basically all of Franklin County, Summit County, Cuyahoga County and the Toledo City School District.

Also in the correspondence with the schools, the OHSAA laid out some of its alternative plans should “contact” sports not receive the governor’s clearance by Sept. 4.

At that point, the OHSAA would back contact sports for the fall, winter and the spring sports into condensed calendars, stretching from mid December until the end of June.

Two other notes that were contained include:

• If the fall seasons begin and, for some reason, are stopped but then resume, the OHSAA has plans to move to a modified fall sports season.

• If contact sports are approved for school vs. school competition, the OHSAA is prepared to set COVID-19-related requirements for schools to follow for competitions as requested by the Governor’s Office. The OHSAA will govern and issue consequences for the violation of these requirements as prescribed in OHSAA Bylaw 11, Penalties.

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