CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Virginia High School League (VHSL) has the final approval from Governor Ralph Northam to allow sports to return, but that isn’t going to happen without many changes to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One of the big differences that people are going to see is the attendance," VHSL Executive Director Billy Haun said. "We’re still under the guidelines of whichever is the lesser of 50% capacity, or 250 [people], including attendees and players.”
“Everybody’s number one concern is safety, and to make sure that we can do this safely and, you know, the governor two weeks ago changed, amended, one of the executive orders, which opened us up a little bit, and allowed us to get back on the field and be able to play,” Haun said.
Haun recognizes the importance of getting student-athletes back to their sports.
“It’s about the mental and the physical health of the student athletes,” he said. “It’s been a long time since they’ve had opportunities to get back into school and be a part of that team. Some of them have been working out and seeing their coaches, but now you’re getting a chance to go back to do what you love and play the sport you love, and get back out there, and it’s just gonna be so good for our kids."
Haun understands COVID-19 has affected all aspects of life, but says at some point there has to be a plan to return to sports safely.
“We’re not back to normal,” he said. “We’re still in COVID and I understand that, but we’ve got to start figuring out how to return and get things going and do it safely.”
There will be specific changes to each sport which are all outlined in a 39 page document. Enforcement of each rule will be handled outside of the field of play.
“We have actually said that there will be some sportsmanship violation and there will be a fine and penalty that goes with that,” Haun added.
As of now, VHSL winter sports are scheduled to begin in December.