NJSIAA COVID-19 Updates

Submitted by TonyMaselli on Tue, 2020-05-26 16:57

 

NJSIAA STATEMENT - NJSIAA builds on Return to Play plan, provides updates on fall sports season – (7/10/2020)

The official start of the fall sports season is being pushed back by approximately one month, with summer workouts for high school student-athletes – which may begin on July 13 – continuing until August 28. Following summer workouts (also known as the “summer recess period”), there will be a two-week hiatus from August 29 through September 13, during which only virtual meetings will be permitted, and only related to in-season (fall) sports.

Under the current plan – developed by the NJSIAA Sports Advisory Task Force, which is composed of athletic directors from across the state – official practices for all fall sports may commence on September 14. Competition will start September 28 for girls tennis and on October 1 for all other sports except football, which will kick off its season on October 2.

Regular seasons will conclude on October 23 for girl’s tennis, November 7 for football, and November 12 for all other fall sports. Limited postseason play will run from October 24 through October 31 for girls tennis, and November 13 through November 22 for all other sports. Schools that do not participate in the postseason may continue to play until November 22, with the exception being Thanksgiving football games. These are permissible after November 22, at each school’s discretion. No other fall sports competition will be allowed after November 22.

“High school sports are school-based, so we need to first ensure all is in order with the opening of our schools,” says Colleen Maguire, NJSIAA chief operating officer. “After that, we can begin playing sports. To be clear, our goal is to return to play – while making sure that health, safety, emotional well-being, and academics come first. We have a different model than some other types of programs that are far smaller in scale and operate independently. We have a duty to ensure that New Jersey’s schools and their more than 1.5 million students and teachers, including 283,000 high school student-athletes, can first return to school and their academics, and then participate in extracurricular activities like sports.”

The NJSIAA Sports Advisory Task Force has identified the following eight guiding principles that will drive the decision-making process.

  1. Ensure the health and safety of all student-athletes.
  2. Re-engage all student-athletes as soon as possible for their social, emotional and mental well-being.
  3. Maximize participation across all sports and all student-athletes.
  4. Keep competition as local as possible for as long as possible.
  5. Develop multiple return to play models to minimize the risk of a cancelled season.
  6. Maintain the ability to pivot to back-up plans when deemed necessary.
  7. Minimize potential impact on the spring season.
  8. Minimize the importance of postseason, statewide championships.

In a memo to NJSIAA member schools, the NJSIAA Sports Advisory Task Force said: “This plan is the first model to be provided in what will be a series of return to play models that will be in place for the 2020-2021 school year. The goal of the task force is to identify multiple back-up models that will be available as both school-related and health-related circumstances evolve.”

The memo went on note: “This plan is intended to allow schools and leagues and conferences to start planning for a fall sports season.  We all recognize the fluidity of the COVID-19 pandemic and realize the circumstances are changing regularly. We will provide updates to all potential plans as timely as possible to ensure schools and leagues and conferences have time to adapt to any pivots to a different return to play model.”

New Jersey’s various scholastic leagues and conferences are strongly encouraged to revise schedules to emphasize local competition and minimize the number of different schools that come in contact with each other. Smaller divisions of schools for competition purposes is encouraged in order to facilitate communications and scheduling.

The NJSIAA will strive to open postseason participation to any team wishing to participate. As with the regular season, the postseason will remain local, meaning a sectional championship or less.  A seeding committee will be used by every sport in order to remove the reliance on power points, standings, and overall record.

“By reducing the length of the season, student-athletes will have the opportunity for participation – but will also have more time to focus on their academic requirements,” says NJSIAA President Steve Shohfi. “A reduced season will naturally lead to a reduced amount of competition, which minimizes the risk of infection through exposure to many different teams and schools.”

Denis Nelson, a member of the NJSIAA COVID-19 Sports Advisory Task Force and the athletic director at River Dell Regional High School notes: “Removing the possibility for statewide, postseason competition is intended to convey the specific message that the fall season is specifically about opportunity, engagement, and participation. It is not about winning championships. From a health perspective, it’s appropriate to keep sports as local as possible. From a competition perspective, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a substantial but different impact on every school district. As a result, the playing field won’t be level this year, so it’s only fair not to crown statewide champions.”

 

 

NJSIAA STATEMENT - NJSIAA provides return-to-play guidelines - Phase 1 – (6/19/2020)

The NJSIAA (New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association) today marked the initial step toward a fall season return to high school sports with the release of initial guidelines for workouts during the summer recess period.

If member schools wish, they may begin summer workouts on July 13; this phase will continue until at least July 26. Additional guidelines and specific timing for subsequent phases are pending, and details will be shared no less than two weeks before the next phase begins. Start dates for all fall sports remain unchanged, though NJSIAA continues to emphasize that all dates are subject to revision.

 

NJSIAA STATEMENT - Youth Sports – (6/15/2020)

“The governor’s announcement today regarding youth and recreation sports is another positive step in our collective effort to return to play. It’s important to note however, that while these particular guidelines are instructive, they don’t directly apply to high school athletics. Any scholastic sports program is part of the overall curriculum, and so must be appropriately in sync with all other facets of the school. High school athletics cannot function independently from schools – which, of course, are currently focused on the safe return of more 1.3 million students, including 283,000 high school student-athletes. In short, scholastic sports present far more pressing and complex considerations than do youth and recreation-level programs. 

As previously announced, we anticipate having guidelines for high school sports by June 19, with summer workouts starting on or around July 13. NJSIAA strongly believes that with summer workouts starting in July, student athletes will have more than enough time to prepare for the fall season." 

 

NJSIAA STATEMENT - NJSIAA Provides Updated, Return-to-Play Guidelines – (6/12/2020)
In a memo issued today to member schools, NJSIAA (New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association) said it is aiming to open the summer recesses period on or around Monday, July 13. NJSIAA anticipates providing member schools with specific guidelines, in compliance with New Jersey Department of Education (DOE), New Jersey Department of Health (DOH), and CDC guidelines, on or before June 19.
Of note, coaches may continue virtual contact with players until the summer recess period officially begins. Regarding a potential July 13 start date for the summer recess period, start dates for all fall sports seasons currently remain unchanged, though the NJSIAA memo states that these dates may still be revised.
While Governor Phil Murphy’s Executive Order 149 specifies that high school sports activities may not begin prior to June 30, a mid-July start date to the summer recess period would provide schools the opportunity to implement specific recommendations. If a mid-July start date were to be implemented, final determination of when practices would actually begin would be up to individual school districts.
“NJSIAA has established direct communication with the governor’s office, the state departments of health and education, and other state associations that are in similar situations regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” explains Colleen Maguire, NJSIAA chief operating officer. “While we’re hopeful school-based athletics will start soon, the public needs to understand that high school sports are unique in that, unlike recreational programs, they must be in sync with our schools. Scholastic sports are part of the curriculum; they don’t operate independently.”
Decisions on the specific timing for returning to play will, in part, be based on input from the NJSIAA’s Medical Advisory Task Force. The task force is reviewing the best available science and will make recommendations consistent with input from the CDC and National Federation of State High School Associations.
“We believe it’s essential to the physical and mental well-being of high school students across the state to return to physical activity and athletic competition in a safe and phased manner,” says Dr. Damion Martins,  medical director of Sports Medicine at Atlantic Health System, New York Jets team physician, and member of the NJSIAA Medical Advisory Task Force. “Our guiding principles include the need to screen for symptoms, promote appropriate social distancing and hygiene practices, and decrease potential exposure to respiratory droplets.”
While some states have already opened high school athletics, the NJSIAA cautions that New Jersey is unique in that it is the most densely populated state and has the second highest number of total COVID-19 cases.

 

NJSIAA Executive Committee Approves COVID-19 Relief – (6/05/2020)

NJSIAA staff recognizes that the standards and deadlines for certain NJSIAA Bylaws for the 2020-2021 school year must be relaxed to accommodate the continuing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. After soliciting input from the League & Conference officers, NJSIAA proposes to amend certain Bylaws for the 2020-2021 school year. See attached link for more information

https://www.njsiaa.org/sites/default/files/document/COVID-19%20Compliance%20Package.pdf

 

 

NJSIAA STATEMENT - Executive Order #149 - Return to Sports – (5/30/20)

“The governor’s executive order (EO #149) regarding organized sports is a positive step. Specifically related to high school athletics, this executive order makes it clear that interscholastic sports may resume in accordance with reopening protocols issued by the NJSIAA – which, in turn, will be based on Department of Health protocols.  The executive order also notes that activities related to high school sports may not resume any earlier than June 30, 2020.

“To establish a workable framework for a safe return, the NJSIAA has – as previously announced – convened a pair of specialized task forces. Establishing these two groups was an essential step because, given that interscholastic athletics – unlike other levels of sport – are school-based, they must be fully in sync with the overall return-to-school plans of our member schools.”
 
NJSIAA Adds COVID-19 Sports Task Force – (5/28/20)
NJSIAA has established the COVID-19 Sports Advisory Task Force, a group of athletic directors from across the state who will consider a wide range of sports-specific proposals and recommendations with a focus on implementing, executing and enforcing potential modifications. This announcement follows by one week the NJSIAA’s formation of its COVID-19 Medical Advisory Task Force, which will identify and implement both general and sports-specific modifications.
These two task forces will work independently but communicate regularly and provide ongoing counsel to each other. Both will make recommendations to NJSIAA leadership, which will then work within governmental and NFHS (National Federation of High School Sport) guidelines to manage the safe return of high school sports in New Jersey.
The Sports Advisory Task Force will be chaired by Rutherford High School Athletic Director and former NJSIAA President Dave Frazier. It will also include Denis Nelson, River Dell High School athletic director; Kevin Murphy, Washington Township High School athletic director; Ryan Miller, Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School athletic director;  Vito Chiaravalloti, Christian Brothers Academy athletic director; Dan Uszaki, Northern Burlington Regional High School athletic director; and Todd Ricker, Parsippany Hills High School athletic director.  Tom Mullahey, Clifton High School athletic director, will serve as the NJSIAA Executive Committee liaison, and Colleen Maguire, NJSIAA Director of Finance and Administration, will serve as the NJSIAA liaison.  
“More than anyone else, athletic directors want to see a safe return to high school sports,” Frazier says. “But, we also clearly understand the significant challenges ahead.  I’m confident we’ll make tremendous progress, and optimistic that we’ll see kids playing again before too long. But, it’s essential to manage expectations and prepare our students-athletes – as well as those who cheer them on – for the short-term changes that may be necessary.”
“Input from our peers will be essential as we try to navigate the various guidelines, the needs of our members schools and the concerns of our student athletes,” added Mullahey.
 
How We Return to High School Sports in NJ – (5/22/20)
By Mary Liz Ivins, President, Chair, NJSIAA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Task Force
In my decades as an educator and school administrator, I’m hard pressed to find a situation as challenging as what we face related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last few months have been painful on many levels, from the heartbreaking loss of life to the millions who have suffered emotional and economic loss. It’s been a harrowing time for everyone. For our students, their lives will be forever changed, from the disruption of academics, to loss of physical contact, to missed social and community opportunities. For our spring sport athletes, both here and around the country, the missed season is understandably upsetting.  While the loss of spring play is disappointing, there remains hope for many future opportunities to compete, and that should be our focus moving forward.
As president of the NJSIAA, my primary goal is the safe return to interscholastic play as quickly as possible.  We remain optimistic that school activities, including sports, will return in the fall – for students’ physical and mental well-being. With every positive step, we get closer to this goal.  As I write, recommendations from the NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations) Sports Advisory Committee are being circulated and studied and teams of education and medical professionals from around the country -- including experts in public health, sports medicine, pediatrics, and others – are developing return-to-school and return-to-play protocols that will ensure everyone a safe return both to school and play. We’re optimistic that these steps will help our kids get back to school and back on the playing field in the fall.
To help ensure that we achieve our objective of a safe return, the NJSIAA has formed, and I will chair, an NJSIAA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Task Force. This task force will work with NJSIAA’s member schools, the NJ Departments of Health and Education, the NFHS Sports Medical Advisory Committee and other leading authorities, to provide the association with the best, most up to date guidance to allow New Jersey high school student-athletes to return to athletics as soon as safely possible.
The goal of the task force is to identify and implement both general and sports-specific modifications that will be required by NJSIAA member schools.  In the short-term, our efforts will be focused on returning the fall athletes to their sports for the 2020 season.  The committee will include Kathy Whalen, NJ Department of Education, Dr. Lakota Kruse, medical director, NJ Department of Health, Division of Family Health Services, and members of our medical advisory committee, including Dr. Jack Kripsak, chair of the NJSIAA Medical Advisory Committee, Dr. Damion Martins, team physician and director of Internal Medicine to the New York Jets and a member of the NFL COVID Taskforce, and Dr. Rob Franks, a team physician for USA wrestling and team consultant to the Philadelphia Phillies. NJSIAA assistant director Tony Maselli will serve as the NJSIAA liaison.
In the near-term, NJSIAA strongly believes that students – both as individuals and a team -- are well served by appropriate, virtual interaction with their coaches and we will continue to facilitate these important connections.
For all those with a passion to return to play, we ask that you continue your efforts and follow all relevant guidelines, including social distancing and wearing of masks. The fewer cases there are today, the greater the likelihood we will play in the fall.  And as we navigate the next few months, it is important that we prepare to be flexible with a new normal. Of course, the timing of our return to school will ultimately be determined by the State of New Jersey. And, it’s important to keep in mind that going back to our school buildings won’t necessarily guarantee an immediate return of athletics. It’s possible that some sports will follow different schedules than others.
During times of uncertainty, it’s not uncommon for rumors to circulate. Often, even well-intended suggestions can trigger an “infodemic” of misinformation. When it comes to high school sports in New Jersey, please reference only reputable information sources, including New Jersey state agencies, the NJSIAA, or the official channels of your school district.
Many obstacles remain. Hard work, patience and flexibility will be required, and at times some may feel deflated. But I’m confident that together, we will help get our kids safely back in the game.
 
NJSIAA COVID-19 Update – (5/8/2020)
 “Given the current level of uncertainty, NJSIAA is – at the present time -- providing general, short-term guidance and information. At the same time, the organization is developing various scenarios and plans related to a potential, fall return to school and sports.
“NJSIAA strongly believes that students – both as individuals and as a team -- are well served by appropriate, virtual interaction with their coaches.  Therefore, for the period from May 11 to June 15, NJSIAA will permit all school district-approved coaches to have virtual contact with all current high school student-athletes. This will be the case with any and all sports. Athletic directors have been encouraged to communicate with administration regarding virtual contact plans, with the understanding that safe, appropriate communication between coaches and student-athletes must be a priority. Of note, any communication with current eighth grade students – beyond discussion of start dates, sign-ups, and physicals -- is currently prohibited.”
 
NJSIAA COVID-19 Update – (5/4/2020)
 “Following today’s announcement by Governor Murphy, the NJSIAA has officially canceled New Jersey’s 2020 high school spring sports season.  This decision was not made lightly and we are disappointed for the thousands of New Jersey student-athletes who will be unable to compete this spring. While we remained hopeful to the end, and left open every possibility, competition simply is not feasible given the circumstances.
“The last few weeks have been heartbreaking on many levels, from the tragic loss of life, to thousands battling the virus, to millions who have suffered emotional and economic loss.  It’s been a harrowing time for everyone, and we know our student-athletes are extremely disappointed. That said, these unfortunate circumstances may have put an intriguing challenge in the path of our young people. As New Jersey’s own Vince Lombardi once said, “It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up. “  We’re confident all our kids will get back up and stand tall.
“The NJSIAA will continue developing plans for the potential restarting of scholastic sports during the fall season. Additional information related both to the summer recess and fall will be shared at a later date.”
 
NJSIAA COVID-19 Update – (4/10/2020)
“The return-to-school date and related public health guidelines will continue to determine the viability of a spring sports season. As noted, NJSIAA is committed to doing whatever is possible to provide New Jersey’s student-athletes with some type of spring season.
“Along with our leagues and conferences, NJSIAA has determined and communicated with member schools that if competitive events are possible, they will conclude no later than June 30.  Various models have been established based on potential return dates that range from mid-May to the end of that month, and leagues and conferences will be given substantial scheduling flexibility.
“Depending on the eventual date of return, a modified tournament may be offered, subject to availability of venues and ability to comply with any health-related restrictions that may still be in effect.  At this stage, based on the return date, post-season play could range from a sectional tournament to only regular season play without a post-season.
“All sports, except golf, would be subject to a six-day, mandatory practice period.
“NJSIAA will continue holding teleconferences and virtual meetings with leaders of our various leagues and conferences to monitor the situation and assess options.”
 
UPDATED NJSIAA STATEMENT - Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) (3/12/2020)
“The NJSIAA has canceled the remainder of the boys and girls basketball championships. The games will not be rescheduled.
“We have been making our decisions one day at a time, taking into account the best available guidance from the state health department and the CDC. Now, given the rapidly changing circumstances and uncertainties facing our member schools, our student-athletes, our host facilities, and many others, we no longer see a viable path to the completion of the Group Championships on Saturday and Sunday. 
“We understand that our decision will disappoint many but believe it to be in the best interest of our student-athletes and all those involved with the games.”
 
UPDATED NJSIAA STATEMENT - Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) (3/10/2020)
As of Tuesday, March 10, there is NO schedule change for the NJSIAA boys and girls basketball tournaments set to take place at various locations during the next several days.
NJSIAA continues to rely on directives from state, county, and local public health officials as well as the New Jersey Department of Education. All NJSIAA events will follow guidelines established by the CDC as they relate to mass gatherings and large community events.  
 
We continue to ask everyone to follow the prevention guidelines distributed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Individuals with symptoms that include fever, cough, and shortness of breath should stay home, while travelers returning from affected international locations should follow CDC guidance related to travel.
 
Please continue to monitor NJSIAA’s website and social media platforms for potential updates.
 
UPDATED NJSIAA STATEMENT - Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) (3/9/2020)
NJSIAA continues to rely on directives from state, county, and local public health officials as well as the New Jersey Department of Education. All NJSIAA events will follow guidelines established by the CDC as they relate to mass gatherings and large community events.  
As of Monday, March 9, 2020, the NJSIAA Ice Hockey finals at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ and boys and girls basketball tournaments at various locations are scheduled to take place as planned.  
Spring season practices are ongoing and being administered by individual school districts. With scrimmages slated for later in the week, we anticipate providing additional information during the next several days.
We continue to ask everyone to follow the prevention guidelines distributed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Individuals with symptoms that include fever, cough, and shortness of breath should stay home, while travelers returning from affected international locations should follow CDC guidance related to travel.
Please continue to monitor NJSIAA’s website and social media platforms for potential updates.
 
UPDATED NJSIAA STATEMENT - Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) (3/6/2020)
“As of 3:30 pm on March 6, 2020, the following events are scheduled to take place as planned:

  • The NJSIAA Wrestling Individual State Tournament at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ.
  • The NJSIAA Winter Track Meet of Champions at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on Staten Island, NY.
  • The NJSIAA Ice Hockey finals at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.
  • The NJSIAA boys and girls basketball tournaments at various locations.

NJSIAA continues to rely on directives from state, county, and local public health officials as well as the New Jersey Department of Education. All NJSIAA events will follow guidelines established by the CDC as they relate to mass gatherings and large community events.   
In addition, we ask everyone to follow the prevention guidelines distributed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Individuals with symptoms that include fever, cough, and shortness of breath should stay home, while travelers returning from affected international locations should follow CDC guidance related to travel.
Given ongoing and potential additional updates from government agencies, NJSIAA will work with member schools should changes or modifications become necessary. Please continue to monitor NJSIAA’s website and social media platforms for potential updates.”
 
UPDATED NJSIAA STATEMENT - Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) (3/4/2020)
“As details of Novel Coronavirus (now called COVID-19) continue to evolve, we want to assure all those we serve that the health, safety and wellbeing of our student athletes is our top priority. Our staff is in communication with state agencies including the Department of Education and the Department of Health and we will continue to receive guidance regarding the safety of student athletes and fans.  If and when conditions change or we are provided additional information and guidance, we will share updates.  Because we are dealing with high school students, many involved in close-contact sports, we understand the interest and concerns.
“Given the current situation and what we know at this moment, there have been no changes to state tournaments for winter sports, or the start of the spring season.  This guidance may change if conditions change or more information is made available.
“We do strongly encourage all participants and fans to follow the prevention guidelines distributed by the Centers for Disease Control.   Beyond CDC guidelines, we encourage our student athletes and coaches to double up on hand washing and sanitizing, and practice sound food safety guidelines and refrain from sharing water bottles and food items.  Athletes should also resist sharing equipment and clothing. And while we value the grit and determination that sports teach us, any athlete who is feeling ill should consult with a medical professional prior to participation.