High school sports could start Sept. 14, pending state guidelines

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The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association's board of directors has voted to set Sept. 14 as the first day of a potential fall sports season.

The vote was unanimous by the board, which met via video conference on Tuesday.

"We're saying that whatever sports are viable for the fall, which is yet to be determined, this is the start date," said Keith Crowley, the principal at St. John's Prep and the co-chairman of the MIAA's COVID-19 Task Force. Wahconah athletic director Jared Shannon is a member of the task force.

The board, the member schools and thousands of high school-aged athletes will now await to see what the commonwealth of Massachusetts determines regarding the start of school, how the education will be presented and if athletics will be contested.

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Jeffrey C. Riley, the commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, told the board that the department is in the process of putting together guidelines around in-school classes, choir or musical theatre, and sports would follow. It is anticipated that those guidelines could be coming out in early August.-

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"If we can do sports, we'd certainly like to do that," Riley said. "Only if we feel like it can be done in a safe way. That may mean that we may have to modify sports. I'm not sure. We've got to really make some decisions about what athletics will look like."-

The COVID-19 Task Force approved three recommendations. The first was to comply with forthcoming guidelines from the DESE, start fall sports — that are allowed to be played — on Sept. 14, and that the board would meet three business days after the release of published guidelines to consider additional recommendations.

The Task Force would then look ahead.

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"The first is the fall season and beyond, what that would look like based on the youth and K-12 sports guidelines that are released," said Thom Holdgate, the committee co-chairman and Duxbury athletic director. "That will allow us to look at what sports are viable based on that release and see if there has to be anything done creatively within our structure that the COVID Task Force would agree upon to bring forth as a recommendation for what the upcoming school year would look like in regard to educational athletics.

"We also will arrive at a recommendation regarding post-season or tournament play for the 2020-21 school year," he said, "depending on what we come to see as part of those guidelines."

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.


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