CHARLESTON, W.Va. — High school sports in West Virginia now have a start date for the 2020-21 school year following an announcement on Friday by Gov. Jim Justice and West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission (WVSSAC) Executive Director Bernie Dolan.
With school to begin on Sept. 8 in the state, athletics were also revised, closer to that start date, according to Friday’s announcement.
Football in the state may begin on Sept. 3, meaning high school games would start on what would have been week 2 of the original schedule.
Two of the three high school teams in Mason County — Point Pleasant and Hannan — had games scheduled to be played on the original week 1, with Point Pleasant having been scheduled to play at Greenbrier East and Hannan scheduled to host Trinity. Wahama’s original schedule had an off week for Week 1, with the team to open on Sept. 4 against Southern.
Specific schedule changes for the area schools have not been announced.
Pushing back the start of the season also move the beginning of practice to Aug. 17 in the state for all fall sports.
Golf will be the first school sport to begin competition, with first matches to begin as early as Aug. 24. Dolan explained that golf would be the first to begin play because its participants are adequately able to socially distance from one another during matches. There is also less practice time required to resume competition for golf, noted Dolan.
Competitions for volleyball, cheerleading, cross-country, and soccer are currently scheduled to begin on Wednesday, Sept. 2.
“No one wants sports and activities to be going on more than Bernie and I do,” Gov. Justice said in the Friday news conference. “We absolutely want our kids back in school. But we want to do it in a way that we know is as safe as we can possibly make it for our students, as well as those who are working with our students like our teachers and service personnel.
“Bernie and I surely recognize the importance of sports,” Gov. Justice continued. “They give us so much. They teach us so many life lessons. They’re important to our communities, they bring us together. But, at the same time, we need to be safe.”
Dolan added that competition attendees will have to follow additional safety guidelines, which will vary based on the type of sport and the facility in which it is being played but will likely include social distancing and the wearing of masks, to keep all participants and visitors as safe as possible.
“I tell people, it’s up to the public to decide whether or not we are going to have athletics come this fall,” Dolan said. “Because you’re the one who will wear the masks.
“It sounds like it’s an easy thing to do for everybody to get on board,” Dolan continued. “So, if you are the one who’s not socially distancing, not wearing a mask, you very well could be the one – you are setting an example for somebody not to follow and then that hurts all of our chances of participating.”
“We all know that we may have to change again,” Gov. Justice said. “We do not know what this is going to do. There is no playbook here.
“But we hope and pray that we’ll be ready to go and we’ve got to have a plan of what we’re going to be able to do…if we can,” Gov. Justice continued. “I want to emphasize ‘if we can.’ We’re going to do it safely. We’re going to do it right. We’re going to protect our kids in every way.”
A portion of the information provided by the Office of Governor Jim Justice.