WILSONVILLE, Ore. – High School football, volleyball, soccer, and cross country all have the green light to begin six week seasons on March 1st.
However, due to the pandemic, the Oregon School Activity Association has canceled the tradition statewide championship events to culminate the seasons.
The OSAA’s Peter Webber says instead, schools will make the decision at the local level on how to end the year, “With all the restrictions…travel, transportation and safety issues…making the decision at the local and regional level makes a lot of sense.”
But he says he’s hopeful there will be normal events for other sports, “We have more counties getting out of extreme risk…potentially we’ll be able to do more traditional types of things later.”
Here’s the letter sent to schools:
To: Superintendents, Principals, Athletic Directors
From: Peter Weber, OSAA Executive Director
Subject: Season 2 Culminating Week Events
The OSAA Executive Board met in a work session on Wednesday, February 17 to receive updates from the OSAA staff on recently updated guidance from the Governor’s Office and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and to finalize decisions on Season 2 Culminating Week events.
During the meeting the Board discussed the current realities associated with conducting large-scale events during a pandemic. Differences between team and individual sports, anticipated issues with establishing equitable qualifying procedures, district adopted travel restrictions, gathering size restrictions based on county risk level capacity limits, and impacts associated with schools forming regional pods were just a few of the topics discussed. Ultimately, the Board reached consensus that the best course of action to take for Season 2 is to return that week to the schools to coordinate and execute local/regional culminating events at their discretion. This lengthens the already truncated season and provides additional participation opportunities for all students at all levels in a program. The Board directed staff to support schools as they organize these events at the local/regional level.
The OSAA Executive Board does not want to put any undue pressure on schools to participate in a statewide event that could potentially place their students and school community at risk. Recommendations from the OHA advise restricting unnecessary travel between counties, especially when they are at different risk levels. The group felt that requiring schools to travel across the state with the potential for overnight stays for events is not prudent at this time.
The OSAA Executive Board knows that some schools will not be able to start participating on time, others will likely have a fragmented season due to outbreaks, and some may be forced to shift their season as a whole. Reviewing all of these factors with an equity lens, along with anticipated transportation/travel restrictions set by school districts, led the Board to their decision to let schools determine how they’ll schedule that 6th week of Season 2.
Participation limitations will be adjusted to allow for additional contests in each activity for Culminating Week events.
Even though there will be no OSAA sponsored statewide culminating event for these Season 2 activities, the Executive Board wants to celebrate the students who have waited patiently to play and to honor them for their commitment, especially the seniors. Board members directed OSAA staff to work with member schools to highlight and promote these events, student-athletes, coaches, and stories from around the state.
Decisions on Culminating Week events for Seasons 3 and 4 have not been determined. The Board plans to continue reviewing potential options as each of those seasons draw near, taking into consideration the status of the pandemic throughout the state at that time.
The Board also reaffirmed their support for conducting virtual events for cheerleading, dance/drill, solo music, band, orchestra, choir, and speech. These events will take place later this year as currently scheduled on the OSAA calendar.
The OSAA Executive Board believes that this decision is a necessary and reasonable action for our member schools, student-athletes, and school communities as we navigate these unprecedented times.