UPDATE: After their emergency meeting on Friday, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) has announced that all mandatory fall sports activities will be paused, however, voluntary workouts may continue. Further determination on sports being played in the fall will be discussed at the next board meeting on Friday, August 21st.

Harrisburg, PA (AP) — Pennsylvania’s governor is recommending that youth sports, including high school sports, be put on hold until January to help prevent COVID-19 infection.

The office of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said Thursday it wasn’t a mandate and that school administrators and locally elected school boards will make the final decisions. Some schools have already canceled fall sports, and leagues have pushed back start dates.

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association last week issued a statement noting it followed the governor’s guidance to ban spectators.

The association was holding an emergency board meeting Friday afternoon.

***

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Health and Department of Education jointly recommended that Pre-K–12 school and recreational youth sports be postponed until at least Jan. 1, 2021, to protect children and teens from COVID-19.

The administration is providing this strong recommendation and not an order or mandate. As with deciding whether students should return to in-person classes, remote learning or a blend of the two this fall, school administrators and locally elected school boards should make decisions on sports.

Highlights of the recommendation to pause youth sports until Jan. 1, 2021:

  • Applies to team and individual, school and non-school recreational youth sports;
  • Includes competitions, intramural play and scrimmages;
  • Continue conditioning, drills and other training activities on an individual basis;
  • Does not apply to collegiate and professional sports;
  • Gathering limits remain unchanged – no more than 25 persons may gather indoors and 250 outdoors.

The administration is updating existing sports guidance to reflect this recommendation.

The administration recognizes the importance of getting children back to school, while also protecting the safety and well-being of students and educators. Guidance for schools is available. The guidance represents endorsed best public health practices related to social distancing, face coverings, hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfecting in school settings. It also outlines how to accommodate individuals with disabilities or chronic conditions, procedures for monitoring symptoms, and responding to confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 in the school community.