ROBBINSVILLE, NJ – New Jersey high school athletes should be able to start summer workouts for the 2020-2021 school year beginning in mid-July, the NJSIAA announced Friday.
The summer workouts, formally known as the summer recesses period, are anticipated to be opened on July 13, the state high school sports governing body said.
The start dates for fall sports seasons remain unchanged, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association said.
“NJSIAA has established direct communication with the governor’s office, the state departments of health and education, and other state associations that are in similar situations regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Colleen Maguire, NJSIAA chief operating officer. “While we’re hopeful school-based athletics will start soon, the public needs to understand that high school sports are unique in that, unlike recreational programs, they must be in sync with our schools. Scholastic sports are part of the curriculum; they don’t operate independently.”
Gov. Phil Murphy on May 29 announced high school sports activities could resume after June 30, and the NJSIAA chose July 13 based on that information. If it moves forward, the final determination of when workouts would actually begin would be up to individual school districts.
Decisions on the specific timing for returning to play will, in part, be based on input from the NJSIAA’s Medical Advisory Task Force. The task force is reviewing the best available science and will make recommendations consistent with input from the CDC and National Federation of State High School Associations.
The NJSIAA in a memo to school districts said the association expects to provide specific guidelines, in compliance with the state Department of Education and Department of Health along with CDC guidelines, on or before June 19.
In the meantime, coaches may continue virtual contact with players until the summer recess period officially begins.
“We believe it’s essential to the physical and mental well-being of high school students across the state to return to physical activity and athletic competition in a safe and phased manner,” said Dr. Damion Martins, medical director of Sports Medicine at Atlantic Health System, New York Jets team physician, and member of the NJSIAA Medical Advisory Task Force. “Our guiding principles include the need to screen for symptoms, promote appropriate social distancing and hygiene practices, and decrease potential exposure to respiratory droplets.”
While some states have already opened high school athletics, the NJSIAA cautions that New Jersey is unique in that it is the most densely populated state and has the second highest number of total COVID-19 cases.
While the NJSIAA says it will issue specifics next week, it’s unclear when high schools themselves will be ready to resume sports activities. There are a number of issues still under discussion about the resumption of in-person school classes will be managed and what the effects will be on schools, students and district budgets amid the coronavirus.