The WIAA Board of Controls voted on Thursday morning to allow high school sports to proceed during the fall season with safety and health procedures in place. After a long discussion, a motion was passed 8-3 to continue with the fall season but to delay the start of practice for high risk sports (boys soccer, boys and girls volleyball and football) to September 7th and low risk sports (girls golf, girls tennis, swimming and cross country) on August 17th. They put in a place a plan for school districts not able to compete this fall to have the option to move their sports to the spring and schedule events with teams in the same situation.
Beaver Dam High School is in Dodge County, which local health regulations will allow student-athletes to compete. BDHS Athletic Director Melissa Gehring says that she is happy a decision was made so now schools can begin to schedule games with safety protocols and procedures in place. BDHS competes in the Badger Conference which spreads over seven different counties. That brings in some scheduling challenges because health regulations vary from county to county and impact schools differently. As of right now Dane County health restrictions prevent any school in their county from competition. That means Beaver Dam probably won’t be able to schedule games against any teams in Dane County during the fall sports season. Gehring says they feel badly for schools that their current health restrictions won’t even let them consider the option to play, but understands that those restrictions in other areas are in place for a reason and safety is first and foremost everyone’s focus.
Once they figure out which school districts will be able to compete in various sports, Gehring says they will work with schools within the Badger Conference first to hopefully schedule as many games as possible. They may then look outside the league to try and schedule other events if possible. With practices starting later than usual, regular seasons may be shorter than normal, but the WIAA says they would be open to sponsoring a tournament series if it can be done safely.
Before the seasons can get underway schools still have question to answer such as what happens when there is a positive test? Gehring anticipates counties, conference and school districts will work through safety measures and quarantine procedures together. Districts will also have to figure out how many, if any fans will be allowed to attend competitions. Gehring adds that now that they know they will be playing the district will discuss various options for allowing fans into competitions. She says families of participants will come first if fans are allowed to attend. Gehring also says they will look into streaming options to allow all fans to the opportunity to view events safely.
Gehrig says they do anticipate some student-athletes will choose not to participate this fall because of COVID-19. She says that she knows the decision to go ahead with the fall seasons wasn’t done lightly. Gehing says that WIAA Executive Director Dave Anderson said it best during Thursday’s meeting. “When you make a decision for your own child your making a family decision, but when you have to make a decision for hundreds or thousands of kids across the district or school, the pressure is on because you want to make a good, safe, and healthy decision for everyone.”
Click the link below to hear a full interview with BDHS Athletic Director Melissa Gehring
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