On December 10, Governor Tom Wolf gave a press conference that was all too familiar. He announced new COVID-19 guidelines for the next three weeks. The guidelines are similar to those that we saw at the beginning of the pandemic. Restaurants are only allowed to provide take/carry out, no indoor dining, bars are shut down, and indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people. One of the most major guidelines, however, were that high school sports and extracurriculars are not to take place for the next three weeks.
Back during the summer, there was a lot of confusion surrounding how fall sports would take place. As the PIAA kept delaying the start, the Wolf Administration as well as the Department of Health believed having a fall sports season was a bad idea, so they recommended against it. Ultimately however, the decision was left up to the PIAA. The PIAA decided to continue with the fall sports season.
Previous to the announcement from Governor Wolf, along with the Department of Health, the PIAA had planned to continue with winter sports on schedule. There would still be strict guidelines to follow, such as wearing a mask, caps on attendance, and social distancing. School districts had the go ahead to start with sports practices/scrimmages.
However, it was still a decision that was faced with a lot of criticism. During the PIAA meeting for winter sports, the Pennsylvania Principals Association requested that the start of winter sports be moved back to 2021 due to the substantial rate of transmission, and concerns about student athletes’ health and safety. The PIAA did not take the request, and responded stating they would continue with the plan to start on December 11, but giving schools “flexibility” on the start date.
When Governor Wolf announced his new guidelines, he cited the Principals Association plea to delay winter sports. The PIAA stated that they had not conversed with the Wolf administration, nor the Department of Health, about the delay of sports.
This may cause some issues with the coming winter sports season however. The significant delay may cause the PIAA to reevaluate their regulations for teams entering season. The PIAA has requirements that teams must meet a certain number of practices before being able to compete. However, with this delay it may be hard for teams to meet these requirements.
Since the postponement of the winter sports season, many Bellefonte teams have been preparing in many different ways, trying to keep the energy up in hopes of a season.
“The girls’ basketball team has been having virtual practices just so we can see each other and talk, we have been going over plays and just learning the game,” senior Maddie Tice said.
Whether it’s virtual practices or in person, all student athletes can agree this isn’t an ideal year, but many have differing thoughts and opinions on whether or not this delay was the right decision, but, it is the reality.
As community transmission rates skyrocket, and hospital beds are full, there had to be new guidelines put in place. As of now, preparation for the 2020-21 winter sports season is halted. Sports will be able to pick up on January 4, given that the number of cases decreases.