Guidance lets sports get back in the game

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

Gov. Tom Wolf last week issued preliminary guidance for high school and recreational youth sports to resume across Pennsylvania.

According to a news release from the governor's office, activities associated with high school sports may resume in counties designated in the yellow and green phases of Wolf's reopening structure during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recreational youth sports may begin in counties that have entered the green phase.

Franklin County moves to the green phase Friday, June 19.

The guidance is a starting point for summer sports and could be updated for fall, winter and spring athletics.

"This is another step toward reopening our state and getting things back on track," Wolf said in the release. "As students and teammates get ready to train and compete, it’s important that they follow precautions to protect each other and their community from the risk of COVID-19."

According to the news release, public and private K-12 schools under the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) and the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association (PISAA) in the yellow and green phase can resume voluntary sports-related workouts. The decision to resume sports-related activities, including conditioning, practices and games, is the discretion of a school entity's governing body. Each school entity must develop and adopt an athletics health and safety plan aligning to Department of Education guidance prior to conducting sports-related activities with students, according to the release. The plan must include the provisions of the guidance, be approved by the local governing body of the school entity, and be posted on the school entity's publicly-available website. The plan does not need to be submitted to the Department of Health or Department of Education for approval, according to the governor's office.

During the yellow and green phases of reopening, sports-related activities at the PK-12 level are limited to student athletes, coaches, officials and staff only, the release said. The addition of visitors and spectators will be contingent upon future health conditions within the state and local communities. Melissa Mertz of the PIAA told a Gannett reporter that the "no-fans" guideline is preliminary and will be addressed in August when there is a better understanding of the health situation.

For recreational youth sports, in-person activities may begin in counties in the green phase if CDC guidance is followed. Examples of recreational youth sports include basketball, hockey, field hockey, football, soccer, swimming, baseball, softball, lacrosse, gymnastics and kickball.

Parents and other spectators should practice social distancing, wear face coverings and not enter the field or bench areas.

College sports sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), including intramural and club sports, can resume in-person activity after developing an athletic health and safety plan in alignment to Department of Education guidance, the governor announced.

Professional sports can resume immediately, according to the release. Teams or leagues in the yellow phase, or if more than 250 people are on site in the green phase, must have a COVID-19 safety plan approved by the Department of Health.

Additional guidance can be found at:

— Echo-Pilot's Ben Destefan contributed to this article.