JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida High School Athletic Association said it remains in a holding pattern on continuing the spring sports season but is exploring conditional options as it continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, the FHSAA addressed the time added to schools in the state being off-limits to students, the potential for added eligibility and an expanded season to squeeze in spring sports like baseball, softball and track and field.
“In light of the current situation, the FHSAA staff is actively working on creative solutions for the continuance of spring sports, which could extend through June 30th,” the FHSAA said in a release. “The FHSAA does understand the hardships caused by COVID-19 and the inability to play spring sports. If we are not able to continue spring sports, the FHSAA is working diligently to create a plan regarding additional eligibility for students who have not been able to participate in spring sports.”
On Monday, the Florida Department of Health recommended school districts in the state continue distance learning through May 1. A best-case scenario is students returning to campuses Monday, May 4, with sports given the ability to resume then.
“Pending schools are back in session and afforded the opportunity to resume activities after May 3rd, by Federal, State and Local authorities, the FHSAA will follow the advice and guidance available to us at that time regarding the continuance of all FHSAA spring sports,” it said.
The biggest nugget from Tuesday’s update was the flexibility about eligibility for affected students. The FHSAA had previously said that students were only eligible for eight consecutive semesters, and once that limit was reached, they were ineligible. That had softened by this week.
Given the rollercoaster of events throughout the pandemic, it’s impossible to project how realistic that timeframe is. Two school districts, Escambia and Hernando counties, have already canceled the remainder of spring sports regardless of any potential continuation.
Another interesting timeline to watch is high school graduations.
In the area, they begin as early as May 16. Even in typical years, it’s not unusual to have graduations occur prior to state championships, but potential mid- to late-June athletic events would be uncharted territory.
The final day of the high school sports season was scheduled to be May 27 with the state baseball championships wrapping up.
The Georgia High School Association has maintained a similar path as the FHSAA, with schools in the state suspended through April 24 and no determination on whether or not spring sports will resume.