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CHAPEL HILL — On the heels of Gov. Roy Cooper’s announcement on July 14 regarding the reopening plan for schools for the 2020-2021 school year, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Board of Directors has approved a number of rule and calendar changes at its meeting on Wednesday morning, July 15. Included in the decisions are the delay of NCHSAA fall sports until at least Sept. 1.

The NCHSAA also released decisions by its board that the first five student days of the 2020-2021 school year will be designated as a “dead period” for ALL sports, allowing school staff to focus on the start of school. As well, NCHSAA announced that Phase One of its summer conditioning and workouts will continue until further notice.

“For now, we believe these steps provide hope for our student-athletes, and the possibility for playing fall sports We know that many decisions are being made relative to the reopening plan your school(s) will follow. After each LEA has had an opportunity to formalize and finalize those reopening plans, the NCHSAA staff will survey the membership to determine how sports should and/or can fit into the various models that will exist across the state,” NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker said in a statement. “Please understand this delayed start date is not ‘in cement’ and can be delayed even further if we do not have improved data from DHHS, or some other reason exists for delaying further into September or beyond.

“We acknowledge that playing certain sports are more problematic at any time without a vaccine; however, we remain in consultation with our Sports Medicine Advisory Committee members, and they believe we can and should offer a sports program, with all necessary modifications, delays, etc. In the coming weeks, we will continue working with the SMAC as we plan our next steps for the fall, as well as determining when equipment could be shared — i.e. balls— and/or if we can move into Phase 2 of the summer workouts/conditioning.

“Each NCHSAA board member believes in the value of education-based athletics and is committed to safely offering a fall, winter, and spring sports program during this school year; however, there is also a commitment to the health and safety of students and coaches. Towards this end, we all will continue to follow the guidance of the Department of Health and Human Services relative to the data and how we all safely move forward. We are in this together, and we will play again!”

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