The Rhode Island Interscholastic league addressed the 2020 fall sports season in a statement and virtual press conference on Wednesday, beginning by postponing the season from Aug. 17 to Sept. 14. …
The Rhode Island Interscholastic league addressed the 2020 fall sports season in a statement and virtual press conference on Wednesday, beginning by postponing the season from Aug. 17 to Sept. 14. The league emphasized that its new timeline is uncertain and contingent upon the state’s reopening plans for schools, and that any firm decisions on fall sports have yet to be made.
“No decisions at this point have been made on any fall sports. This plan is going to be fluid, the health measures and data that’s going to be determined by the Rhode Island Department of Health is going to continue to be closely monitored as we continue to make our decisions. Guidance and restrictions can change at any time and we’ve got to be able to adjust to all of those situations,” said new RIIL Executive Director Michael Lunney.
Lunney followed up by stating that no decisions will be made until after Aug. 17, which is the deadline for schools to finalize their reopening plans and education models. Should the season begin on Sept. 14, regular season games would begin on Friday, Oct. 2. Sports can be played regardless of education model, whether it be in person or virtual, but it will ultimately be up to member schools to make the final decision.
In the coming weeks, the league along with its member schools, will focus on how to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 between student-athletes, as well as other factors in terms of settling on schedules.
Lunney and the league will be encouraging member schools to utilize weekend competition and schools will have to adjust to any budget issues that may arise regarding transportation and field use.
In the governor’s latest update and in accordance with the state’s Phase 3 stage for reopening, the league will only be able to offer boys and girls cross country, girls tennis and game day cheer as sports. Part of the league’s model that was revealed on Wednesday stated that it would establish a four-season schedule, with the third season including the remaining fall sports that could not compete. Should the state enter Phase 4 by the Sept. 14 date, or if the governor amends her guidelines regarding sports, then some other activities may be added.
Lunney stated that the league considered switching some spring sports to the fall season and vice versa, but that was ultimately decided against in an effort to prevent forcing student-athletes to choose between sports if they participate in multiple activities.
In terms of testing and ensuring student-athlete health, the league has not created a system as of yet, but Lunney said the minimum would be daily symptom checking between students, coaches and administrators. Spectator attendance will also be determined by the state’s public gathering policies at the start of the season.
Lunney and the RIIL plan on addressing the public once again after Aug. 17 to announce a finalized plan regarding the fall sports season.
“We have been very pleased with the collaboration that we have had with the superintendents, principals, all of our stakeholders that have the best interest of our students in mind. I am confident that we will be able to provide a great experience for our kids this year and be ready to adjust,” Lunney said. “The goal of this, is the framework that we are trying to put in place. To be flexible so as we go we can make decisions that are in the best interest of everyone with the goal of mind of providing every student with the opportunity to participate in their sport.”