Stanwood stadium field, 8.9.19

The new Stanwood stadium field is seen from a drone above.

High school athletes likely won’t return to courts, fields and tracks until 2021.

Athletic directors from the 21 Wesco Conference schools voted last week to move the remaining fall sports to winter and spring. The move came as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Snohomish County and throughout much of the state, prompting health officials to urge school districts to start the year with distance learning.

This week, the KingCo Conference, Metro League and North Puget Sound League all voted to follow suit, pushing cross country, tennis and golf to spring. 

“It’s tough,” Stanwood High Athletic Director Tom Wilfong said. “I feel terrible for the athletes.”

But the league opted for the change for safety reasons and logistical concerns when districts — such as Stanwood-Camano, Mukilteo and Edmonds — announced they would start with remote learning, Wilfong said. 

The vote, pending approval from the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, pushes the remaining sports in Season 1 of WIAA’s proposed plan — cross country, golf and tennis — to Season 3. Football, volleyball, girls soccer and girls swimming had already been moved into 2021.

Season 2, which includes basketball, wrestling and boys swim, starts Dec. 28.

Season 3, which runs March 1 to May 2, will likely feature cross country, football, boys soccer and volleyball.

Season 4, starting April 26, is home to tennis, golf, track and field, baseball and softball.

According to the WIAA’s return-to-play guidance, sports deemed “low risk” can return under Phase 3 and “moderate risk” can return in Phase 4. Snohomish County is currently in Phase 2.

In addition, the Washington Officials Association told the WIAA that 30% of officials surveyed do not feel comfortable being involved in athletics right now, exacerbating a previously existing shortage of officials. 

“There’s still way more questions than answers,” Wilfong said. “But we have some time to work on what these seasons will look like.”

In late July, the WIAA amended their plan to allow football season to start five days earlier on Feb. 17.  Also, winter sports were moved up a week, meaning practices can begin Dec. 28 and the season will end Feb. 27.

The WIAA Executive Board meets again later this month and is expected to release more guidance.

Contact reporter Evan Caldwell at ecaldwell@scnews.com and follow him on Twitter @Evan_SCN for updates throughout the week and on Instagram @evancaldwell.scn for more photos.

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