States Vary on HS Tournament Coronavirus Reactions

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As state high school athletics associations ponder whether or not to proceed with postseason tournaments amid coronavirus concerns, two states have taken significant measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the state's governing body for high school sports, announced at a press conference Tuesday that it was cancelling the remainder of tournaments involving boys' basketball, girls' basketball, boys' ice hockey and boys' swimming. 

“Coronavirus has just begun here and we don’t know how far this will spread,” Glenn Lungarini, the executive director of the CIAC, said, as reported by The Bulletin of Norwich. “The CIAC understands and appreciates the disappointment that student athletes, parents, coaches, administrators may feel as the result of this decision, however, we must always place the health and safety of our student athletes first.“

Also on Tuesday, the Ohio High School Athletics Association announced that all postseason tournaments will take place as scheduled, but "without most spectators in attendance."

As reported by The Daily Record of Wooster, the OHSAA’s decision came after a recommendation from Gov. Mike DeWine during a Tuesday press conference to only allow athletes, parents and essential personnel into indoor athletic events through the conclusion of the boys' basketball state tournament at the very least.

“This will be a very difficult time for our schools and fans, but we cannot ignore the directive of the governor,” OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass said in a statement. “We are pleased that our tournaments can continue and we will soon determine who can attend. However, we can already say that it will most likely be no more than the immediate family of the student-athletes participating in the event.”

Other states are proceeding with their postseason tournaments while monitoring the COVID-19 situation.

According to the Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester, N.Y., a meeting today will include New York State Public High School Athletic Association executive director Robert Zayas and officials from sections around the state. The winter season is over in most sports. Boys' and girls' state bowling championships are Friday through Sunday in Syracuse, and boys' ice hockey is Saturday and Sunday in Buffalo. 

The NYSPHSAA released a statement Sunday that said Zayas "is closely monitoring the rapidly evolving situation," and the organization's director of communications said Tuesday no changes have been made.

"The NYSPHSAA State Championships will be hosted as scheduled. It is important for schools and athletes to practice risk mitigation as they prepare for participation in championship events and to follow recommendations from the New York State Department Health." 

The NYSPHSAA said updates from the state health department, education department and Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office will determine what changes, if any, are made.

"Changes to the championship events could become necessary and warranted," according to the NYSPHSAA's statement.

Meanwhile, individual schools are taking matters into their own hands. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, three Philadelphia-area high schools have declined to host Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state tournament boys’ basketball games because of concerns about coronavirus.

The PIAA Class 5A game between West Chester Rustin and Unionville, originally scheduled to be played at Oxford High School, instead played Tuesday night at West Chester East. Oxford athletic director Mike Price confirmed that his school had declined to host the event after Unionville announced Monday night that it was closing its school as a precautionary measure.

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