The fall football season will be delayed two weeks following a meeting by the Georgia High School Association’s Board of Trustees on Monday in Thomaston.
The meeting was held at the GHSA office to discuss the opening of fall sports. It was not expected the BOT would vote on a proposal to cancel or approve schedules during the meeting, but a motion to stay on a schedule that had the first football games played Aug. 21 was voted down 8-4.
Ultimately, it was a slight alteration as the BOT unanimously voted to play a full regular season and playoffs beginning Sept. 4. Practice is still set to begin July 27 with pads Aug. 1, and every other fall sport’s schedules remain unchanged.
There was also discussion of how positive tests would be handled during the season.
On Sunday, GHSA president Glenn White said he was “adamantly against canceling athletics,” citing a desire to provide a normal routine for students, however it’s since become clear that won’t be the reality in some areas of the state.
Just hours before the GHSA meeting came an announcement that the biggest school district in the state, Gwinnett County, would go 100 percent virtual to begin its 2020-21 fall semester — a decision that’s also been made by metro-Atlanta counties Cobb, Clayton, Dekalb and Fulton.
Glynn County Schools are currently planning for in-person instruction with a virtual learning option that would require students to commit at least nine weeks to at-home learning, but with the caveat significant growth in local spread of COVID-19 could necessitate a full transition to digital lessons.
According to the minutes of the GHSA meeting Monday, one board member, Atlanta Public Schools athletic director Jasper Jewell, suggested the APS may cancel fall sports entirely if the football season was delayed two weeks while another member, Athens Academy athletic director Kevin Petroski, argued pushing football season back would impact winter sports at smaller schools that depend more on multi-sport athletes.
But the decision made by the GHSA to push back the beginning of its football season is similar to some of those made by states around the country.
Both North and South Carolina have delayed all fall sports until at least Sept. 1, West Virginia pushed practices and games back one week, and Washington has delayed its fall season by two weeks. New Jersey will begin its fall season Oct. 2.
Other states have taken more extreme measures amid the pandemic: California and the District of Columbia have postponed interscholastic athletics until at least January 2021, and New Mexico canceled fall contact sports football and soccer with an eye toward the spring.
Monday meetings are also planned in Florida and Texas — a couple other high school football hotbeds — to discuss fall athletics.
GHSA executive director Robin Hines will meet with the sports medicine advisory committee Wednesday to further discuss return to play guidelines.