Football: Shorewood at Stanwood, 11.1.19

Spartan defense lines up for a Thunderbird fourth-down attempt during Stanwood's 35-13 win over Shorewood on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019.

If high school sports are played this fall, they'll get started later than first expected.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association has announced a more than two-week delay for the start of the fall season. During its meeting on July 7, the Executive Board for the state governing body pushed back the start of the season until Sept. 5 for football and Sept. 7 for other sports. Those are the dates practices can begin. The seasons originally were slated to begin Aug. 19 and Aug. 24. 

Under the new dates to start practicing, contests could begin as early as Sept. 18, WIAA officials said. Stanwood football was scheduled to travel to Kamiak on Sept. 4 and host Marysville-Pilchuck on Sept. 11. Spartan volleyball and girls soccer would have been four games into their season by Sept. 18.  

“The action was taken in an attempt to relieve pressure on member schools as they prepare for the opening of schools to in-person and/or online learning,” WIAA officials said in a statement Wednesday, July 8.

The WIAA has created committees, made up of coaches, administrators, officials and students, to look at each sport and create guidelines for what is needed to play and stay safe.

The board said it will review the committee recommendations and options for fall sports during its July 21 meeting. WIAA officials said they will issue its next announcement about the start of fall seasons on July 22.

“The Executive Board recognizes this recent action creates many questions, and it will work to provide answers on July 22,” according to the WIAA statement. “In the interim, we suggest schools avoid any rescheduling of games ... until a decision is made on how the delayed start impacts the fall season.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic still a part of daily life, athletic directors, coaches and athletes have had to keep track of a number of new guidelines — and endure a large dose of uncertainty — as fall approaches. The previous spring's sports were canceled, and the return of prep sports is now governed by guidelines from sources including Gov. Jay Inslee's Safe Start plan, WIAA's own guidelines and information from local health agencies. 

Even when sports begin, they may look very different with frequent temperature-taking, strictly enforced social distancing and a host of other measures. The WIAA has classified sports as "high," "moderate" and "low" risk based on risk of infection; sports in all three categories are played in the fall. 

Stanwood-Camano school officials have said that while Island County is in Phase 3, school sports-related activities will likely not return until Snohomish County is also advances to Phase 3. 

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