EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLE

Creswell High School football players practice Tuesday in anticipation of the season being played.

The first sports to return to action  -- football, girls volleyball and boys and girls soccer -- will not be playing for state titles this year, the OSAA Executive Board said in a statement released Thursday afternoon. The board met in a work session on Wednesday, Feb. 17 to receive updates from the OSAA staff on recently updated guidance from the Governor’s Office and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and to finalize decisions on Season 2 “Culminating Week” events. 

Schools across the state will now have an "extra week" of Season 2 to fill as they see fit.

"We will talk amongst the league to see how best to fill that week but that could include a district or regional meet for cross country, and league playoffs for soccer and volleyball," said Brandon Standridge, athletics director for Creswell's middle and high schools. "For football, it might allow us another game, and since we are playing everyone in the league already, a chance to play someone else in our area like Pleasant Hill or Harrisburg."

Standridge said the OSAA goal remains to play each season "as is. He said moving any sport into another season at this time isn't feasible.

Moving the season for any sport will infringe on other programs, and we want our student-athletes to play multiple sports throughout the year."

Volleyball remains at "extreme risk" and might not be able to play any matches. CHS officials are watching what happens during this "waiting week" where the county could move down to the "high risk" category. "If we have similar numbers this week to last, then they will be able to start on time with their first match on March 2. We should know our latest week numbers by Feb. 23, and will adjust our plans accordingly with those numbers."

The news release stated:

“During the meeting the Board discussed the current realities associated with conducting large-scale events during a pandemic. Differences between team and individual sports, anticipated issues with establishing equitable qualifying procedures, district adopted travel restrictions, gathering size restrictions based on county risk level capacity limits, and impacts associated with schools forming regional pods were just a few of the topics discussed.  Ultimately, the Board reached consensus that the best course of action to take for Season 2 is to return that week to the schools to coordinate and execute local/regional culminating events at their discretion.  This lengthens the already truncated season and provides additional participation opportunities for all students at all levels in a program.  The Board directed staff to support schools as they organize these events at the local/regional level.

“The OSAA Executive Board does not want to put any undue pressure on schools to participate in a statewide event that could potentially place their students and school community at risk.  Recommendations from the OHA advise restricting unnecessary travel between counties, especially when they are at different risk levels.  The group felt that requiring schools to travel across the state with the potential for overnight stays for events is not prudent at this time. 

“The OSAA Executive Board knows that some schools will not be able to start participating on time, others will likely have a fragmented season due to outbreaks, and some may be forced to shift their season as a whole.  Reviewing all of these factors with an equity lens, along with anticipated transportation/travel restrictions set by school districts, led the Board to their decision to let schools determine how they’ll schedule that 6th week of Season 2.

“Participation limitations will be adjusted to allow for additional contests in each activity for Culminating Week events.”

Board members also wrote that they were empathetic to the student-athletes, parents and school officials.

“Even though there will be no OSAA sponsored statewide culminating event for these Season 2 activities, the Executive Board wants to celebrate the students who have waited patiently to play and to honor them for their commitment, especially the seniors.  Board members directed OSAA staff to work with member schools to highlight and promote these events, student-athletes, coaches, and stories from around the state.

“Decisions on Culminating Week events for Seasons 3 and 4 have not been determined.  The Board plans to continue reviewing potential options as each of those seasons draw near, taking into consideration the status of the pandemic throughout the state at that time.”

Further in the statement, Board members endorsed “conducting virtual events for cheerleading, dance/drill, solo music, band, orchestra, choir, and speech. These events will take place later this year as currently scheduled on the OSAA calendar.”

Finally, it stated:

“The OSAA Executive Board believes that this decision is a necessary and reasonable action for our member schools, student-athletes, and school communities as we navigate these unprecedented times.”

Editor's note: The Chronicle is seeking reaction from area players, coaches and administrators. Check back for updates.