Fall high school sports and activities will begin as scheduled – for now

The first official day of summer was less than two weeks ago, but it feels like it’s been summer for three months. Just ask the high school students in San Juan County who were prohibited from participating in spring sports and activities.

As the county continues to adjust to widespread cancellations and closures due to COVID-19 restrictions, many are hopeful the 2020-21 school year, including athletics and activities, will get underway as scheduled in August.

As of right now, that’s the plan.

According to a May 5 statement from the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA), the Activities Association would consider sanctioning 2020-21 sports and activities only “when all 29 counties move to yellow [COVID-19 risk] status.”

As of the week of June 29, only Salt Lake City remained in the “orange” or “moderate-risk” phase. Nineteen Utah counties are in the “low-risk (yellow)” phase and ten have moved to the “new normal (green)” phase.

Counties in the green risk phase include San Juan County neighbors Emery, Wayne, Garfield, and Kane counties.

San Juan County, however, is dealing with a unique situation. While most of the county is in the yellow phase, Navajo Nation land in the southern portion of the county remains in the “high-risk (red)” phase.

San Juan School District Superintendent Ron Nielson said the district is on schedule to begin the 2020-21 school year according to the approved calendar and is currently in the process of building a plan that will be flexible enough to meet the needs of parents and students county-wide.

“We’re trying to provide an option where students can learn at home and also in person at school depending on how comfortable the parent feels,” Nielson stated.

He explained that the situation will evolve in different areas of the county, not only in the everyday school day but also in sports and activities. “It’s moving forward similar to normal in Blanding and Monticello but not in all areas of the county,” said Nielson.

Indeed, teams at San Juan and Monticello high schools are already actively preparing for the fall season while there is no practice at Whitehorse, Monument Valley, or Navajo Mountain high schools.

As far as the UHSAA is concerned, the plan is to open the school year as normal, but the COVID-19 situation is fluid, and plans at both the local and state level can change overnight.

UHSAA Executive Director Rob Cuff said, “We’re going to have precautions in place and we’re going to plan on having a sports season.”

But, he continued, “We have no idea where the Governor’s Office is going to come in on this or where districts and superintendents are going to come in.”

Cuff explained that school districts have until August 1 to submit their plans, and the Activities Association will follow the schools as closely as possible.

“If there’s no in-person learning,” he stated, “there’s probably going to be no in-person practice, just like in the spring.”

Both the UHSAA and San Juan School District will hold meetings in the coming weeks that may help solidify the status of sports and activities heading into the final month before school is set to resume.

Look for updates here in the San Juan Record when they become available.

San Juan Record

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