Virus activities continue to trend upward all across Washington state and COVID-19 restrictions are in place until at least Dec. 14, putting in doubt the odds of starting the traditional winter sports season at the end of December.
In response, the WIAA Executive Board has decided to move the start of its Season 2 to Feb. 1 and to shorten each of the remaining seasons from eight weeks to seven.
“The decision comes in light of surging COVID-19 cases around the state, putting in jeopardy the ability to begin WIAA Season 2, which was scheduled to begin on December 28,” the WIAA says in a news release.
In Season 2, the traditional winter sports — basketball, bowling, swimming and wrestling — will be held. It was scheduled to begin Dec. 28 and end with a regional “culminating event” on March 20.
This moves Season 3 (fall sports) back to March 15 (except for football, which can begin March 8) with its culminating event on May 1; and Season 4 (spring sports) to April 26 with a conclusion on June 12.
With Season 2 pushed back two months, the WIAA also extended the open coaching period through Jan. 23. That allows coaches to work with their student-athletes in the same manner as the summer coaching window.
The process for beginning a sports season remains in place. Each of the state’s three regions — Kitsap schools, with the exception of Bainbridge, are in Region B while the Spartans are in Region A — can start a season in each specific sport if at least 50 percent of the schools in each region are eligible to participate as defined by state Department of Health guidelines.
Season 2 has two high-risk sports — basketball and wrestling – meaning competition can begin when there is a low risk of transmission (25 cases per 100,000 residents over the previous 14 days and less than a 5% positivity rate); two moderate risk sports — gymnastics and bowling – which means competition can begin when there is moderate risk (25-75 cases per 100,000 resident and less than 5% positive rate); and one low-risk sport – swimming, which can begin at anytime.
If 50 percent of schools in the given region is not eligible to participate, the WIAA can plan to move the sport to another season.