The OSAA Executive Board met in a work session 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 sports events.
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,” said OSAA Executive Director Peter Weber. “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 board acknowledge that the decision means 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.
“[However], reviewing all of these factors with an equity lens, along with anticipated transportation and travel restrictions set by school districts, led the Board to its decision to let schools determine how they’ll schedule that sixth [culmination] week of Season 2,” Weber said.
Participation limitations will be adjusted to allow for additional contests in each activity for Culminating Week events.
“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,” Weber added. “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.
The board also reaffirmed its support for 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.
“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,” said Weber.