HHSAA postpones start of fall sports
HONOLULU – The rocky road that is the pathway back to opening the 2020-21 school year continues to take tenuous steps amidst the dark shadow cast by the COVID-19 pandemic.
State and local school boards across the nation are struggling to balance the proper care in combating the virus with getting students back in-person or via virtual classrooms.
As Hawaii’s public schools aim for opening up the hybrid schedules that include split sessions and virtual learning systems, state officials continue to discuss the issue.
And for interscholastic sports, the deliberations heat up day by day. For the fall athletic seasons – most notably football – the playing surface is shifting continually.
Extracurricular activities like the fall sports of football, cheerleading, cross country, air riflery, girls volleyball and bowling; speech and debate team in-person meetings; marching band practice; drama club rehearsals; and staff professional development were scheduled to begin on Aug. 19, according to a Hawaii State Department of Education statement issued on July 18.
But last week, the Hawaii High School Athletic Association pushed the date for prep sports to start until the end of August.
The start date for football practice had been tentatively set for Aug. 17, and the other fall sports were to begin at the end of the month.
Due to the nature of the fall sports like football, cheerleading and girls volleyball, social distancing will be difficult to implement.
E-sports, bowling, air riflery and cross country look to be able to forge ahead with adjusted fall schedules.
Department of Education officials point to dates as far as Oct. 5 for the final calls as to whether or not there will be a fall sports season and in what form they will take.
The DOE and HHSAA will meet on Aug. 18 to make those decisions.
These start dates align with DOE directives to focus the first three weeks of the new school year on three priorities: assessing student learning needs, testing and adjusting safety protocols, and conducting employee training and preparing for classroom and virtual instruction.
“We recognize the importance of extracurricular activities when it comes to the overall educational experience of our students. Given the current global health crisis, we are taking steps to ensure the safety of our students and staff while trying to balance a whole-child approach to learning that these programs provide,” DOE Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said.