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The high school golf season is the first to break into action, and can begin play on Friday, Aug. 5, according to an OHSAA announcement on July 31.

COLUMBUS -- The Ohio High School Athletics Association reaffirmed its position Friday that fall sports seasons will go forward as planned, but contact sports (including football) have not been cleared to play games.

The announcement was made in an email to OHSAA member schools on Friday. 

Some county health boards around Ohio, particularly in metropolitan areas, have recommended no fall sports should be played due to COVID-19, including Cuyahoga, Franklin, Portage and Summit among others. A number of schools have already suspended extra-curricular activities in those regions. That will no doubt lead to a hodge-podge schedule if fall sports do begin play.

In essence, the OHSAA email to member schools states low/non-contact sports and contact sports will be permitted to begin official practices tomorrow (Aug. 1.) as had been previously announced. Contests between schools in low/non-contact sports are permitted to begin per their normal dates and regulations.

On July 28, the OHSAA tweeted that "golf, tennis and volleyball contests are permitted. #OHSAA continues to work with Governor's Office on field hockey, soccer, cross country & football contests. NEW: school vs. school scrimmages are suspended."

"It is important to keep athletic activity moving forward," said Dan Leffingwell, president of the OHSAA board of directors and superintendent of the Noble Local Schools in Sarahsville. "And with that, we believe our member schools provide our student-athletes with the safest possible environment to play and that our school programs are the best avenue to help students learn lifelong lessons and provide social, emotional and physical benefits that other programs cannot.

"Moving forward allows those students to continue to be engaged with their school coaches and teammates. Membership data also supports this decision."

Leffingwell also said the OHSAA could adjust its plan based on future guidance from Gov. Mike DeWine.

“If we were to delay, our students will find opportunities to compete in sports through non-school programs that may not be focused on safety and are not education-based,” Leffingwell said. “Should data on COVID-19 change and/or the Governor’s Office makes changes to our plan, we have flexibility that would allow us to look at implementing other models for our seasons.”

If contact sports are not approved for school vs. school competition by Friday, Sept. 4, fall contact sports and remaining winter and spring sports will move to a condensed schedule that will take place between mid-December and the end of June. Fall non-contact sports would move forward as scheduled.

If the fall seasons begin and for some reason are stopped but then resume, the OHSAA has plans to move to a modified fall sports season.

If contact sports are approved for school vs. school competition, the OHSAA is prepared to set COVID-19 related requirements as prescribed in OHSAA Bylaw 11, Penalties.

Conversations with the Governor's Office/Ohio Department of Health continue regarding the status of field hockey and/or cross country being placed into low/non-contact category. The membership will be updated if that changes for either or both sports.

The OHSAA continues its conversations with the Governor's Office on its plans to ensure we are in concert.

Low/non-contact sports include golf, girls tennis and volleyball. In these sports, the guidelines state:

-- Official practices may begin on Saturday, Aug. 1.

-- School vs. school scrimmages and/or contests will follow per their normal OHSAA permissable dates and regulations.

-- Golf: 1 scrimmage permitted anytime during the season. First contest is Aug. 5.

-- Girls Tennis: 1 scrimmage permitted after practice begins and prior to first match. First contest is Aug. 7.

-- Volleyball: 5 scrimmages and 1 preview permitted after practice begins. First contest is Aug. 21.

Football

-- Official practices will begin on Saturday, Aug. 1 with the normal acclimatization period in place.

-- No school vs. school scrimmages are permitted.

-- School vs. school contests will follow per their normal OHSAA permissable dates and regulations with a target date of the week of Monday, Aug. 24. (This date is subjectd to change and subject to approval from the Governor's Office/Ohio Department of Health and with the stipulation that COVID-19 testing will not be required.)

Soccer, Cross Country, Field Hockey

-- Practices will begin on Saturday, Aug. 1 with the normal acclimatization period in place for cross country.

-- No school vs. school scrimmages are permitted in soccer or field hockey.

-- School vs. school contests will follow per their normal OHSAA permissable dates and regulations with a target date of Friday, Aug. 21 for soccer and field hockey; and Monday, Aug. 24 for cross country. (These dates are subject to change and subject to the approval from the Governor's Office /Ohio Department of Health and with the stipulation that COVID-19 testing will not be required.)

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