CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A plan has been approved, and the voices of high school athletes and coaches throughout the state have been heard.
Governor Jim Justice announced during his press briefing on Monday that high school winter sports teams will return to practice on February 14, with competitions beginning on March 3.
But a big factor will be that students must be in school.
“If we’re in school, we’re going to allow games to begin for Winter sports on March the third. Practices will begin, if we’re in school, on February the fourteenth,” said Justice. “When you go back, you have to have fourteen practices before you can play.”
He also said that high schools in Red counties will not have in-person learning, under his executive order, which also means that those schools would not be able to play.
February 14 is a Sunday. In a conversation with Bernie Dolan last week, the WVSSAC Executive Director did tell 12 Sports that the WVSSAC has opened up Sunday to teams as a day to practice, or to play (if necessary).
Including Feb. 14, teams will have up to 17 days of practice prior to March 3.
When later asked about why winter sports has been delayed up to this point, and now until Feb. 14, Gov. Justice said it simply, “They’re not in school. That’s all there is to it.”
Dr. Clay Marsh followed by saying:
“We know from our own epidemiology studies that we have certainly seen outbreaks and transmission between people on sports teams, particularly, high school level sports teams, and have seen very little spread … in the classroom.”
“Ultimately, sports teams are areas of not only outbreak, but also transmission,” Marsh continued. “So I think at this point, the medical data would say that older students – adult-sized students -, and particularly adult-sized students on sports teams are risks to spread COVID-19.”
Gov. Justice added that he has receiving recommendation from educational leaders, cautioning the start of winter sports based on what they saw, he says, during the fall sports season.
Winter sports have been delayed since November 13, when Gov. Justice first announced that they would not begin on time. They were originally pushed back until Jan. 11, which is today, and were later pushed back to March 1.
However, March 1 had a lot of questions around it, with no clear direction from state leaders.
Now, we have dates of when practices and games will begin.
High school sports have not been played in West Virginia since Nov. 28, which was the last day of the high school football playoffs. On that day, the same day that Fairmont Senior defeated Bluefield in what was scheduled as a Double-A semi-final game, the WVSSAC cancelled the Super Six championship weekend.