Gov.: Pennsylvania shouldn't have sports until 2021

Last updated: August 6, 2020 - 4:25pm


HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf dropped a bombshell on the state’s high-school athletic programs this morning.

It’s his office’s recommendation that “we don’t do any sports until Jan. 1.”

As a press release clarified later in the day, his office is recommending that both pre-K to 12 and youth sports be suspended until the beginning of 2021. The recommendation doesn't apply to collegiate or professional sports.

“Anything that brings people together is going to help that virus get us,” said Wolf at a press conference on Thursday morning.

“So the guidance from us — it’s a recommendation — is that we don’t do any sports until Jan. 1.”

The afternoon press release called it a "strong recommendation and not an order or mandate."

"As with deciding whether students should return to in-person classes, remote learning or a blend of the two this fall, school administrators and locally elected school boards should make decisions on sports," it continued.

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association met behind closed doors on Thursday, but came to no decision on the recommendation. Instead it put out a press release saying it was "tremendously disappointed" in Wolf's decision.

"Our member schools have worked diligently to develop health and safety plans to allow students the safe return to interscholastic athletics," it continued. The PIAA Board of Directors plan to meet tomorrow afternoon to review what happens next.

Fall sports teams were set to begin official practices later this month, while voluntary workouts had already begun at many schools with restrictions.

We’ll be following developments.

Here's the full statement from the governor's office issued Thursday afternoon:

The Pennsylvania Department of Health and Department of Education today jointly recommended that Pre-K–12 school and recreational youth sports be postponed until at least Jan. 1, 2021, to protect children and teens from COVID-19.

The administration is providing this strong recommendation and not an order or mandate. As with deciding whether students should return to in-person classes, remote learning or a blend of the two this fall, school administrators and locally elected school boards should make decisions on sports. 

Highlights of the recommendation to pause youth sports until Jan. 1, 2021:

  • Applies to team and individual, school and non-school recreational youth sports; 
  • Includes competitions, intramural play and scrimmages;
  • Continue conditioning, drills and other training activities on an individual basis;
  • Does not apply to collegiate and professional sports;
  • Gathering limits remain unchanged - no more than 25 persons may gather indoors and 250 outdoors.

The administration is updating existing sports guidance to reflect this recommendation.  

The administration recognizes the importance of getting children back to school, while also protecting the safety and well-being of students and educators. Guidance for schools is available. The guidance represents endorsed best public health practices related to social distancing, face coverings, hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfecting in school settings. It also outlines how to accommodate individuals with disabilities or chronic conditions, procedures for monitoring symptoms, and responding to confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 in the school community. 

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