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VHSL says governor's COVID-19 order solely limits spectator numbers, not teams or officials

VHSL says governor's COVID-19 order solely limits spectator numbers, not teams or officials

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On Friday, just hours after Gov. Ralph Northam issued a COVID-19 order that, among other restrictions, limits gatherings to 25 people, the Virginia High School League clarified that the new cap will not take into account high school athletes, coaches or officials during games.

“We want to make it very clear that the governor’s order for reduction in public and private gatherings to 25 individuals applies to ‘spectators’ and not participants at those events,” VHSL Executive Director Dr. John “Billy” Haun said in a statement. “Nothing in the order prevents VHSL member schools from holding contests.”

The previous limit on spectators, as prescribed by the VHSL’s recently released “Return to Participation” guidelines, was 250. According to the statement, the VHSL plans to release more details on Monday.

While the VHSL is the state’s high school sports governing body, local school districts have the final say on restrictions. Contacted by email, spokespersons for Stafford and Caroline County schools wrote that their districts will provide an update on Monday; emails to Spotsylvania and Westmoreland County schools officials were not immediately returned.

The VHSL is scheduled to restart sports Dec. 7 with the first basketball practices.

The first games can occur on or after Dec. 21.

As with the greater Fredericksburg region, the decision to move forward with sports is still left up to each individual school division. This week, Richmond Public Schools announced it was not participating in winter sports. In Hampton Roads, Norfolk Public Schools is the only division that is unsure if it’s going to play winter sports. Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News and the Williamsburg-James City County divisions said this week they are planning to play.

If the schedule starts on schedule, it will mark 284 days since the VHSL, which governs the state’s more than 300 public high schools, has held any competition. The last competition was the Class 2 state championship basketball games on March 12. The spring sports season was canceled March 20, and on May 7, the league announced the conclusion of the 2019-20 season.

—Information from The Virginian-Pilot was used in this report.

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