WINSTON COUNTY - The announcement Thursday by Governor Kay Ivey and State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey that all Alabama public schools will be closed for traditional instruction for the remainder of the school year also means that the spring sports regular seasons and championships are also canceled.
In a memo to school superintendents, principals, athletic directors and head coaches, Alabama High School Athletic Association Executive Director Steve Savarese shared in the disappointment and hardships school officials are feeling and facing during this historic moment.
"We are committed to putting the health, safety and overall well-being of our administrators, coaches and student-athletes at the forefront during this challenging time. Our priorities must focus on returning to a normal school year in 2020-2021 and graduating the seniors of 2020," Savarese said.
Savarese clarified that no coach can hold a practice or work with student-athletes even in small groups during the school closures.
"The mandated school closure is a 'dead-period' for all athletic activity, even in small groups. A coach is not allowed to have physical contact with nor work with students during this time. Students are not covered under catastrophic insurance during mandated school closures," Savarese said.
Savarese conceded that the AHSAA does not govern outside facilities, which means groups of students could gather at facilities off campus with a coach not present to work, but he strongly discourages this, due to the Alabama Department of Public Health's recommendations that persons not gather in large groups at this time. Because schools are closed, Savarese said that outside participation and 50% rules are not in effect at this time, which means students could participate in an outside activity in the same sport without facing penalties.
Savarese noted that the AHSAA has created a springs sports contingency committee, fall sports committee and summer competition committee to develop contingency plans for spring evaluations, summer competitions and camps, dead weeks and the beginning date for fall sports. Please will be provided once they are approved by the AHSAA Central Board, but are subject to change even after board approval in the event school campuses are not reopened during the summer.
"Following the directives of the Alabama Department of Public Health to protect our health and safety is - and should be - our No. 1 goal. We will not eradicate this disease unless we all cooperate with healthcare and professional recommendations, maintain our social distance and continue to pray for God's assistance," Savarese concluded.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.