PA/PIAA Return to Play Highlights

For more information regarding the state recommendations for PIAA sports, click here.

To see my earlier post regarding thoughts for XC this season, click here.


Here are what I contend to be the highlights from today’s release by the state regarding return to sports in the PIAA. It would appear as though they injected most of the recommendations that the National Federation of High Schools put out a couple of weeks ago. (My added comments in italics)

– During the Yellow and Green phases of reopening, sports-related activities at the PK-12 level are limited to student athletes, coaches, officials, and staff only. The addition of visitors and spectators will be contingent upon future health conditions within the state and local communities.

So, does anyone know what phase is after green? Is it fluorescent green? Look, I know green in this instance doesn’t mean go, but at what point will parents be able to watch their kids compete; especially if the parents or “persons living in their same household” are recommended to take the athletes to practice and competitions.

(Just so my position is clear – I strongly advocate for mask wearing anytime out in public. Too many people think green does mean go and safety precautions can be thrown in the wind.)

– Consider student athletes wearing masks before and after practice, removing masks for practice while continuing social distancing when possible. Any athlete who prefers to wear a cloth face covering during a contest should be allowed to do so.

No one I have talked to thinks it is reasonable to expect a XC runner to wear a mask while competing, even if only for the first few hundred meters of a race until it thins out.

– Space student athletes at least 6 feet apart on the field while participating in the sport (e.g., during warmup, skill building activities, simulation drills).

Only a problem for XC on race days at the starting line. This IS however a BIG problem. I think we all knew this would be a problem, but might as well reiterate this here. As I mentioned in my earlier post about racing in the presence of COVID, maybe XC uses a staggered start approach, maybe one team starts together, followed by the next team, etc…

– Avoid group events, such as games, competitions, or social gatherings, where spacing of at least 6 feet between people cannot be maintained.

Yeah, so how can any sport reasonably compete under this recommendation?? Get ready for Tour de France style time trials. One runner at a time starts, followed by a 2nd at some interval after. If XC has any hope of finishing a competition in this manner teams will be heavily restricted on the total number of runners that can participate in any one race.

– Create social distance between student athletes and coaches on school buses (e.g., seating one person per seat or every other row).

Possible with limited participation (travel team vs entire team) and with athletes getting rides from those persons living under their same household. (See next two recommendations)

– Consider decreasing the number of student athletes traveling for an event to allow for appropriate social distancing on buses.

– Limit the use of carpools or van pools. When riding in an automobile to a sports event, encourage players to ride to the sports event with persons living in their same household.

– Consider competing only against teams in their local area (e.g., neighborhood, town, or community).

Carlise vs Cumberland Valley

Warwick vs Manheim Central vs Manheim Township vs Hempfield

Lebanon vs Cedar Crest vs ELCO vs Annville-Cleona

Chambersburg vs Shippensburg vs Greencastle-Antrim

Penns Valley vs Bellefonte

Reading vs Wilson vs Wyomissing

You get the point…

Look, something is better than nothing. XC practice with teammates should be good to go. Individual and team time trials should be good to go. The rest remains a big question mark. Unfortunately, continued failure to consistently physical distance and wear masks will make a return to normal unlikely prior to a vaccine or cure. It’s time to get creative everyone!! Leave comments and suggestions to this post on twitter. Send comments and suggestions to Tag me in your individual responses on twitter for a retweet.

We will continue to report on this as more details emerge. I know some schools have already written plans for restart and are seeking board approval at this moment. More to come!