OSSAA sets guidelines for COVID-impacted games

The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association has amended previously approved rules dealing with outbreaks of influenza on scheduled activities to include COVID-19 as it nears the start of the 2020-21 school year.

Board members in a special meeting Thursday made the changes.

“Based on phone calls we were getting as we get into those activities, there are some decisions that will be made that are strictly left to the local school districts,” OSSAA director David Jackson said after the meeting. “For instance, how are we to travel safely for a contest with social distancing guidelines, that’s not one we would dictate.”

But interruptions in contests would be.

Thus, the amended Board Policy LIV allows in the event of school cancellation on a given day prohibiting teams from participating in scheduled contests due to the closure of schools that the affected schools should make all reasonable efforts to reschedule the contest on a different date and time within the regular season and if unable, may cancel the contest.

But if the results of that contest would impact a playoff bracket such as fast pitch softball, football, dual wrestling, soccer and classes 2A-6A spring baseball, the two schools should attempt to reschedule within 48 hours of the original contest. If the schools cannot reschedule, tiebreakers involving won-loss percentage without marginal points, head-to-head competition, and if necessary, by lot.

Also the amendment says if a decision by a local or state governing body or educational board interrupts the scheduling or location of playoff contests, the executive director (Jackson) is authorized to develop and execute a plan in the best interest of the membership to continue, reschedule or relocate postseason play.

That includes forfeiture of games.

“We would do the best we could to prevent a forfeit from happening, but it is a possibility,” Jackson said.

Jackson said there is no plan to not proceed with the fall regular seasons as scheduled, “but that doesn’t mean we can’t come back and make amends.”

“There’s so much we don’t know and the experts don’t know,” he said. “There is so much still to be determined, I can’t give you an answer to a drop-dead date (for changes).”

In other actions, a committee set up to look at a petition brought by baseball coaches of football-playing schools asking that the association split non-football schools playing baseball from theirs was scheduled to have its first meeting July 7. The petition argued that schools of similar size playing fall baseball had a competitive advantage over those who played football in the fall due to additional number of games and participation time in that sport.

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Kays is sports editor for Muskogee Phoenix, a CNHI LLC publication.

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