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School sports in limbo for 2020 fall season

The fall season for high school sports in Airdrie will start later than usual this year.

The Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association (ASAA), which oversees school sports in the province, announced Aug. 11 the start of the season would be delayed until at least Sept. 1. Originally, school teams would have been allowed to start training camps as early as Aug. 16.

“If there are to be any further postponements relating to any ASAA fall sport, an announcement will be made before Sept. 1,” ASAA’s statement said, adding that from Sept. 1 onward, only in-school practices are permitted.

“Please note that any directives provided by the ASAA are subject to change as new information becomes available, and schools must always ensure their activities are in compliance with local school jurisdictions and provincial health guidelines, which may be more restrictive than the ASAA policy.”

ASAA also tweeted that return-to-sport plans will vary from school to school. Athletes should adhere to protocols set forth by their superintendents and principals, and refer to regulations set out by the provincial government and Alberta Health Services (AHS).

In an update Aug. 13, the association clarified its fall provincial championships would be postponed until the Alberta government moves into Stage 3 of its economic relaunch strategy.

"Once the government of Alberta announces the details of Stage 3 of its relaunch strategy, the ASAA Executive Committee will consider what the implications are for inter-school athletic competition and ASAA provincial championship events with a focus that places safety of all participants first and foremost," the statement said.

The fall calendar for high school athletics includes football, girls’ soccer, volleyball, cross-country running and golf. ASAA's announcement left local coaches and athletes in those sports in a state of uncertainty. 

“It’s encouraging the season hasn’t been officially cancelled by the ASAA, but we’re still in a little bit of limbo with whether we can actually move forward or not," said Chris Glass, the head coach of the George McDougall Mustangs football team.

“Unfortunately, it does look like we’ll have to wait until September to get an answer whether our season is a go, if we’ll have to move it to spring or what we’ll do with our players who are affected.”

In Airdrie, athletics at public middle schools and high schools are governed by the Rocky View Sports Association, which is attached to Rocky View Schools (RVS). In a statement, RVS Communications Director Tara de Weerd said all extracurricular events within the division are still cancelled as of Aug. 12. She said the division is working with Alberta Education, AHS and ASAA to "explore possibilities for athletic activities and events within the context of current health measures.”

"Where a club can meet while maintaining physical distancing, they can continue as long as they wipe down touched surfaces. Clubs that cannot maintain physical distancing are cancelled until further notice," she said, adding the RVS Board of Trustees will discuss if and how school sports will be implemented prior to the start of the new school year.

Glass said the most heartbreaking thing about a potentially cancelled season would be the effect on student-athletes entering their senior year of high school.

"Our grade 12s, who have put in so much time, effort and work into developing their craft, won’t get the opportunity to show the culmination of all that work they’ve done, and show that next level [scout] what they’re all about," he said.

“This was their year to break through and really show what they’re able to do. I’m hoping our decision-makers take that into account when deciding what the next steps are, but I understand that, as much as we love our sports and as important as they are, safety comes first.”

According to ASAA, any COVID-19-related impacts on its winter and spring sports will be addressed closer to their respective seasons.

Scott Strasser,
Follow me on Twitter @scottstrasser19

Scott Strasser

About the Author: Scott Strasser

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