Good Wednesday morning. Washington’s high school sports restart amidst the COVID-19 pandemic is our topic for discussion this morning, as the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association has once again made changes to the high school sports restart plan, announcing those following a vote of the high school sports’ governing body’s executive board last night during their remote meeting.
The association, which announced a February 1 start date for the fall sports season earlier this month, has made changes to the winter and spring sports schedules. Previously, the seasons were going to run as normal, with the winter sports first followed by the spring stuff. That has changed. The association voted to hold the spring sports, such as baseball, softball, boys soccer and track and field, starting March 15 and finish May 1, then winter sports, including basketball, wrestling and gymnastics, would start April 26 and finish June 12. This schedule puts the WIAA now relatively in line with what the Wesco Conference had earlier agreed to do for its league restart. The WIAA has allowed individual leagues the flexibility to do their own thing, and as noted, Wesco did that. The Kingco Conference has also done that, delaying their restart to March 1. But will Kingco ultimately end up holding sports this school year?
Concern growing about potential district opt-outs from Kingco restart
When the league announced their delayed restart last week, one key thing they did not announce was the format they would be using for their seasons, although yesterday, we have been told by a Kingco coach that coaches received a tentative framework yesterday. A big reason the league may have initially not announced a framework publicly may be because individual school districts have not yet committed to the league plan, and in at least one Valley school district, parents are now growing concerned.
Brian Aasland, a key parent in both Mount Si High School’s girls’ basketball and baseball programs, took to social media Tuesday night calling for the Snoqualmie Valley school board to address this issue at an upcoming meeting and allow both parents and Mount Si athletic director Chris Hill an opportunity to present their case. This led to the district agreeing to meet with them privately; we have not been told anything about what was said in that meeting. But the Snoqualmie Valley district is not the only district that could be getting cold feet about a restart. Aasland told us that he has heard Issaquah schools are reportedly considering their options, although our conference source indicated he hadn’t heard anything similar, and the Bellevue school district may be forced to address their potential participation in the sports restart after that district’s teachers union issued a statement last night calling for the district to halt expansion of their in-person classroom restart until teachers and other staff are fully vaccinated against the virus. As you are aware, the state earlier this week allowed everyone over 65, including teachers, an opportunity to get the vaccine, but the union wants all of their members as part of the new plan.
Kingco school districts adopted a policy back in the spring at the outset of the pandemic which basically as we remember it had tied the playing of sports to actual in-person learning in the league’s schools, and with that not happening currently and perhaps in some districts not likely to happen at all this school year, there is a real good possibility that Kingco may not be able to have any games at all until this fall. As for Cedarcrest High School and the Riverview School District, that district as you know has also instituted a no in-person school, no-sports edict for CHS, but they have scheduled a return to in-person learning at the high school in Duvall March 29. So they may be able to hold sports up there this spring, but that is very much a big if at this point.
This is an issue that could start to generate a little attention around the state, as the Kingco Conference could end up being one of a very few, if any leagues, to not offer sports this school year in Washington. Following the WIAA’s initial restart, the Big 9 Conference announced a halt to league play, instead opting to let their schools schedule games independently with opponents in their geographical area. Schools in that league straddle two different regions of the state COVID restart plan, creating the need for this scheduling setup.
Interesting days ahead on this front and we’ll be sure to keep you posted on any changes.
About Rhett Workman
Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman’s coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.View all posts by Rhett Workman →