The VHSL plans to make its final decision among the following three options July 27:
1. Keep the fall, winter and spring seasons in their usual order but cancel all fall sports except golf and cross-country.
2. Swap the order of fall and spring sports, which allows activities with a lower risk of spreading the virus — baseball, soccer and track and field — to begin soon while football, which is high-contact, waits until about March. Boys’ and girls’ lacrosse are considered high risk and would not be played at all this school year.
3. Start sports in December and play three condensed seasons. This option — conducting winter sports from Dec. 14 to Feb. 20, fall sports from Feb. 15 to May 1 and spring sports from April 12 to June 26 — appears popular in other states. While it shrinks all three seasons, it delays sports until schools potentially reopen and can decide how to deal with outbreaks.
“Especially with model one and model two, we don’t want to have a repeat of the spring,” VHSL executive director Billy Haun said. “We don’t want to get started into a season and then have to cancel the remainder of the season like we did with spring sports last [school] year. In model one or model two, that really could happen because many of the medical experts are predicting that we’re going to have a resurgence of covid in the fall. That would cancel somebody’s season totally.”
The VHSL’s other concern is that many districts across the state have not finalized plans to reopen schools, and an athletic season that begins with schools closed would make it difficult for some athletes to get to practice.
With Virginia in Phase 3 of reopening and significant social distancing guidelines still in place, no sports are feasible now except for golf and cross-country (with staggered starts). Schools would need guidelines to loosen to start playing.
The governing bodies for high school sports in Maryland and D.C. have not announced plans for the fall. In Prince George’s County, where schools will stay online through at least January, all sports will be put on hold during distance learning. Multiple football coaches said Wednesday they’re hoping to instead play in winter or spring.
Kyle Melnick contributed to this report.