ST. GEORGE — With the announcement that all K-12 schools in the state of Utah will be going into a soft closure starting on Monday, Washington County School District Director of Communications Steve Dunham confirmed that all athletic practices and activities will be canceled.
“Because of this announcement, all school and athletic activities are canceled throughout duration of this dismissal,” Dunham told St. George News.
After the Utah High School Activities Association announced Thursday that there would be a suspension of sanctioned events starting on Monday due to COVID-19 concerns, the next big question was how practices would be affected.
Washington County School District Director of Communications Steve Dunham confirmed that the decision to continue athletic practices, for the time being, was left to the district.
“They have left that open to us to decide, and right now we’re saying that yes, outdoor practices will be allowed,” Dunham said. “That’s right now, that could change, and we’re getting updated information regularly. In the event we were to go into a shutdown or dismissal scenario that would immediately stop.”
The athletic practices are contingent on the academic side of things. If the schools remain open, the teams will continue to practice regardless of the UHSAA suspension.
The biggest theme of the conversation with Dunham was the fluidity of the situation. The WCSD seems to be rolling with the punches.
“Very true because it has changed so much, not only yesterday, but since yesterday,” Dunham said.
Spring break is next week, which gives some time to make a decision. But it also allows teams to practice through the break.
The decision making process will be as follows. Information from the health department will come down for a dismissal or suspension of school activities, if that decision is made, and if that decision is made then the athletics side of things will be halted.
Desert Hills high school soccer coach Benji Nelson confirmed on Thursday that their team would continue to practice and that they planned on playing their final Region 9 game on Friday before the UHSAA suspension of events.
Cedar head baseball coach Eric Fieldstead echoed the same sentiment as Dunham after the Reds took down Enterprise on Thursday.
“As long as school is in session, we are allowed to practice,” Fieldstead said.
Iron County School District will be making their own decision when it comes to practices, but Fieldstead seemed to be of the same understanding that the athletics side of things will be decided when the academic decision comes down.
Snow Canyon Athletic Director Conley Gali said the district and regions had the final say, just like Dunham, when it came to practices and events before the Monday suspension. That is why baseball games were played yesterday and soccer games were scheduled to go on as planned.
Gali also brought up that in the UHSAA handbook, activities includes practices and games. In the UHSAA release they only referred to the suspension of “activities,” and that is where some confusion is being seen. There is still some clarification needed on the topic for Gali, but everyone is waiting on that clarification before making any decisions with regards Region 9 spring sports.
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