After weeks of speculation as to whether or not high school athletics would be given the go ahead to begin on Dec. 7, that decision has finally been made.
In July, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) delayed the start of the 2020-21 high school sports season to December, in hopes that there would be a better handle on COVID-19. With the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, the decision was held off as long as possible, but with the scheduled date of sports (football and cross country) resuming play less than a week away, it was decided Tuesday that starting athletics in December would no longer be a valid option.
“Due to the continued surge in COVID-19 infections, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has postponed the issuance of its updated youth sports guidance,” a statement from the CIF said. “The (CIF) does not expect the CDPH will issue any guidance allowing for schools to return to full practice and competition until after Jan. 1, 2021, at the earliest. Thus, all full practice and competition start dates are officially on hold until updated guidance is issued.”
With 51 of 58 California counties currently in the purple or “widespread” tier, getting high school student-athletes back on the field seemed like a longshot. The CIF is made up of 1,605 schools and more than 800,000 students. As for those students in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section – which includes Bret Harte and Calaveras – they will not be allowed to practice or compete in games until the Sac-Joaquin Section receives California return-to-play guidelines.
And while the start of the fall/winter season has been delayed, the CIF is hopeful that the delay won’t turn into anything permanent. Because of that, modifications to the schedule had to be made.
“The best opportunity to compete in season 1 sports, once allowed by the CDPH and local county offices of public health, the CIF State Office is removing all regional and state championship events from the season 1 sports calendar,” the CIF statement said. “By canceling regional and state championship events, more student-athletes will have the opportunity to participate in a longer season, rather than a truncated season with regional and state postseason play for a limited number of schools.”
The statement concluded by saying, “The CIF is confident this decision is a necessary and reasonable action for our member schools, student-athletes and school communities in light of the current statewide crisis. This revision to the CIF State 2020-21 season 1 sports calendar offers our sections and leagues the flexibility and needed time to plan for the return to practice and competition once updated guidance is provided by the CDPH.”
As of Monday, California has had 1.2 million COVID-19 cases and 19,221 deaths.