The Kansas State Activities Association will release its first set of plans for fall sports and activities on or around July 17, KSHSAA Executive Director Bill Faflick said in an online press conference on Wednesday.
Faflick also denied a rumor circulating on social media that KSHSAA is planning to cancel fall sports.
“That rumor is totally not accurate. Unfortunately, somebody was pretty irresponsible with social media and never talked to anybody here,” Faflick said.
Faflick said that KSHSAA has multiple drafts of contingency plans in place.
“We’ve got several, well-developed plans,” Faflick said. “They’re still in draft form. We want to make sure what we put in place for cross country makes sense for volleyball and marching band. We want to be consistent with the advice for each of the activities.”
The idea of flipping the fall and spring sports seasons — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has asked the Michigan High School Athletic Association to take that action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — is one that KSHSAA is averse to for now.
“That’s a question our staff has really wrestled with,” Faflick said. “We want to provide opportunities when kids can participate, but there’s some challenges with that. The challenge is that our spring athletes already lost a full season. If our (spring athletes) don’t get the opportunity to be part of a competitive, performance-based season again because fall is at higher risk than the spring, that would be very damaging. While we’ve look at that at this point, that does not seem to be a direction we want to go.”
With Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s executive order requiring Kansans to wear masks set to go into affect on Friday, Faflick said that KSHSAA is in support of the mandate.
“We support universal masking,” Faflick said. “It is important for us to take every precaution now to mitigate risk of COVID-19 so that we have the best possible chance to resume school with the healthiest student and staff population possible. We all have a responsibility to do that now.”
A point of concern for Faflick has been the suspension of summer weight lifting programs due to potential exposures to COVID-19.
“Schools shutting down portions of their program or entire programs is a huge concern,” Faflick said. “Our numbers across the state have been huge with kids coming back to the activities. It’s also a sign that the virus isn’t gone.”
Faflick is imploring schools to be proactive with summer activities and workouts when it comes to health.
“There’s nothing better than good, personal hygiene right now,” Faflick said. “Schools should be doing a screening prior to every conditioning session that takes place. “
KSHSAA is coordinating with various agencies around the state and country as it finalizes plans for fall sports, including the Kansas State Department of Education, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, CDC, national governing bodies for sports and the governor’s office.
The KSDE is expected to release a draft of its plan for schools on July 9 and take action on that plan at a board meeting the following week.
“We are working very closely with the state department of education and that ties into our timeline,” Faflick said. “The week leading up to July 17, we expect guidance on what school may look like in terms of teaching and learning…as well as operational. We’ll use that to fine-tune any plans we’ll deploy to our member schools.”
KSHSAA is still working on how to address scenarios of schools being forced to cancel a game because of COVID-19 concerns.
“We know that we’ll have to exercise some agility with schedules,” Faflick said. “Games may not be able to be played because teams can’t be put together. We need to come to a final decision on some of that. We don’t want it to be a situation where you’re not playing because it’s a really good team.”
The association is also working on fan attendance policies for the postseason but will leave regular season policies up to schools, which in turn will take guidance from respective school boards and county health departments.
“The regular season belongs to the member schools,” Faflick said. “League policies and school board policies will govern that. When it comes to the postseason, it’s the KSHSAA’s responsibility.”
Faflick also updated the status of a statewide survey sent out to every school regarding the public-private classification issue. He said that as of last week, the association had not heard from 29 schools in Kansas.
KSHSAA will eventually release the results of that survey to its schools and the public.
“We are chasing down our final few schools that have not completed that survey,” Faflick said. “Our board has reviewed the preliminary data. We’ll give schools until July 4 complete that survey.”
Answers to how high school fall sports will look appear to be on the horizon.
“We know it’s a fluid situation. We want to be prepared so these very important activities can take place with our member schools,” Faflick said.