COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced Friday afternoon that the Ohio Department of Health order which allows high school contact sports to compete against other schools if health requirements are met has been extended until July 22.
Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted announced July 7 the initial health order which allowed different programs to compete in contact sports following health requirements until July 15.
"Lt. Governor Husted emphasized when this 'trial' order first came out, the responsibility is with all of us to continue exercising safe practices to slow the spread of COVID-19," OHSAA interim executive director Bob Goldring wrote in a memo to member schools Friday afternoon.
The extension would allow an extension for opposing schools to compete in seven-on-seven football workouts, for example.
Intra-team (within the same school program) practices, training, open gyms and scrimmages are also permitted for contact sports.
Goldring reiterated Friday that the OHSAA office is moving forward with the normal start of the fall sports seasons, meaning official practice begins Aug. 1 with the series of postseason tournaments scheduled in 10 of those sports later this fall.
"We are committed to moving forward in starting our fall sports on August 1 and are hopeful that school-to-school competition in all sports will be permissible by that date," Goldring wrote.
"As you all have seen during this pandemic, those plans can be modified or canceled quickly since, just like the governor’s office and all of you, our focus is on the health, safety and well-being of our student-athletes, which is paramount in moving forward with interscholastic athletics."
The OHSAA also said its return to play recommendations document will be sent to member schools once it's approved by the governor's office and department of health.
"Since March 12, no doubt each member school has developed their own health and safety guidelines to allow student-athletes to train, condition and, in some cases, compete as they prepare for the upcoming interscholastic sports season," Goldring wrote.
"To that end, we have heard the membership loud and clear that recommendations on return to play are needed from the OHSAA Office. Believe me, we have been working tirelessly to finalize such guidance, but we absolutely want to be in concert with the governor’s office and the department of health to ensure that what we provide is not in conflict with the requirements, orders and other recommendations that are in place."
The OHSAA has 815 member high schools and 760 seventh- to eighth-grade schools in the association for this upcoming 2020-21 school year.
The OHSAA represents over 350,000 students competing in 26 sanctioned sports – 13 for boys and 13 for girls.
Ohio is the fourth-largest state for high school sports participation behind California, Texas and New York.