The VHSL’s delay and the Governor’s backpedal on a school decision means uncertainty
by Andy Hilton, recruit757
I’m going to share a few opinions here. I have no more information than what’s already been released by the VHSL and the Governor’s office.
The VHSL Executive Committee decided to wait on making an announcement about Fall Sports on Thursday and it’s a good thing that they did.
The Governor’s Chief of Staff stated on Thursday: “I encourage you to get to know your local school board members and discuss the reopening plans for your jurisdiction with them. The final decisions on reopening are squarely in the hands of local school boards.”
If the VHSL was waiting for a decisive statement from the governor, they’re not likely to get it now.
The announcement from the Governor’s Office may have been well intended when it comes to allowing localities to address with the factors that effect them, but it won’t create ANY continuity across the Commonwealth.
There are generally five options that I’ve seen floated by the various school board entities in the state.
1.) Five-day a week fully scheduled school days.
2.) Split days where one group attends while the others stay home on “A” days and the grouping flips on “B” days. That reduces daily physical attendance by 50%.
3.) Split each day so that every student attends for a half day. That could make school days longer for teachers and staff, and it requires twice as many bus trips daily.
4.) Online learning only.
5.) Parent’s choice. Opt-in for physical attendance or opt-out for online learning.
Some school systems may adopt a hybrid of any of the plans I’ve outlined. Of course there are nuances to each option and there are still social-distancing and other guidelines would be implemented. What I have mentioned covers in-person attendance in a broad manner.
Putting the responsibility for attendance and policy on each school district also means that fall sports could be addressed by each school district as well. If a city or county is so cautious as to keep all students out of bricks and mortar buildings, how could they rationalize fall sports and activities? Secondly, with schools that are splitting their attendance, how will they address after-school activities when 50% of the student body won’t be at the school at the end of any given school day?
Transportation becomes an issue. Buses and bus drivers will be working overtime just to get students back and forth from school. Getting kids to after-school activities may end up being an unattainable luxury.
With various school districts being on different pages of the same book, can the VHSL mandate that all schools do the same thing when it comes to sports? I don’t see how they can.
My biggest fear is that you’ll see a patchwork of policy from district to district. It seems inevitable.
If that happens, you’ll likely see some cities or counties make their students available for fall sports and activities while it will be virtually impossible for others to participate.
Scheduling would become a nightmare. We’re roughly eight weeks away from the start of the school year. The scheduled start of school would have come on Tuesday, September 1 this year. The football season would have started prior to that. School systems have to decide in the coming weeks how they’re going to address physical attendance for the 2020-2021 school year.
We will only have weeks after that decision is made to determine which school districts are going to allow fall sports and activities. From that point, if there’s going to be a fall sports season, the schools will have to rework their schedules to include only the schools who are participating this fall. Expect travel to be limited. Some schools may be left with fewer games than others.
I’m not going to get into how the fall sports season would work. There are already a number of proposals that have been floated, including a shortened regular season or elimination of the post-season.
At this point, the Governor’s announcement on Thursday seems to mean that we might not get a VHSL mandate on holding a fall sports season that includes every school in the Commonwealth. IF there’s a season, it seems like there won’t be 100% participation. I hope I’m wrong.
It’s likely we’ll get a football season. I think it’s unlikely that this football season will look like anything we’re used to seeing.
– Andy Hilton