HHSAA submits guidelines to Department of Health to restart sports, hopeful that practices can start in January

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More than three months after the typical start to the high school sports schedule in the islands, the Hawaii High School Athletics Association remains optimistic that student athletes could be hitting the field for practice as early as next month.

HHSAA Executive Director Chris Chun told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello on Thursday that a collaborative meeting was held on Wednesday evening with a sub-committee from the Department of Health which will now over the next two weeks go over the HHSAA’s return to sports proposal and likely offer counter guidelines for a potential start to the modified 2020-21 sports calendar.

“As you know we’ve been trying to meet with the Department of Health so they graciously included us in their sub-committee to restart sports. They understand the importance of sports in the return to school component. So, it’s great that we’re talking about it. We submitted our guidelines, the Department of Education submitted the draft of their guidelines, so we’re looking at it, talking about it and then we’re just making recommendations on how we proceed further,” Chun said. “Basically we’re going to meet again in two weeks, they’re going to draft their own broader guidelines so it will encompass not only the DOE, HHSAA, but all of youth sports as well. Something that everyone can use across the state in regards to when we’re allowed to go back.”

The HHSAA has targeted January 4 as the official start to practices with a two week ramp up period prior to that.

“We’re asking that they can get back training on campus by mid-December. If that doesn’t work and we have to push back a couple of weeks we’ll figure it out but I’m confident and they have our timeline and we’re trying to work within that schedule to make sure that if everything cooperates with the virus and everything and our state is doing well that we can start up in January or shortly thereafter.”

In the event that the HHSAA’s proposal of official practices starting in early January, the domino effects of that would be that the traditional winter sports that can’t start on time would first have state tournaments canceled, but those sports would remain tentatively scheduled to be played in a modified format before the end of the 2021 school year.

“We have contingency plans. At that point it would be difficult to run a state tournament for those sports that can’t start in January. Obviously we’re going to do everything we can to protect the spring and have them have a full season from practices to games to the state tournament. Especially because we don’t want the sprint athletes to miss out on their junior and senior seasons, but I’m confident that there will be some kind of level of activity for the winter sports. We’re not saying that just because we cancel the state tournament that we’d have to cancel practices, games, league competition, no. They’d have some kind of season.”

The high-risk traditional fall sports which include cheerleading, cross country, football, and girls volleyball are not labeled as winter or spring but in all likelihood will be treated as a spring sport for 2021.

Stay with KHON2 on-air and online for the latest on this developing story.

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