New Jersey to restart high school sports around July 13

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The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association continues to work toward restarting high school sports around the state. According to a memo on the state’s website, the NJSIAA states it wants to open the summer recess on or around July 13 as the country moves away from the coronavirus pandemic.

By sometime next week, the NJSIAA will release guidelines that will be in compliance with New Jersey Department of Education (DOE), New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) and CDC guidelines.

Below is the complete memo:

From the NJSIAA

In a memo issued today to member schools, NJSIAA (New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association) said it is aiming to open the summer recesses period on or around Monday, July 13. NJSIAA anticipates providing member schools with specific guidelines, in compliance with New Jersey Department of Education (DOE), New Jersey Department of Health (DOH), and CDC guidelines, on or before June 19.
 
Of note, coaches may continue virtual contact with players until the summer recess period officially begins. Regarding a potential July 13 start date for the summer recess period, start dates for all fall sports seasons currently remain unchanged, though the NJSIAA memo states that these dates may still be revised.
 
While Governor Phil Murphy’s Executive Order 149 specifies that high school sports activities may not begin prior to June 30, a mid-July start date to the summer recess period would provide schools the opportunity to implement specific recommendations. If a mid-July start date were to be implemented, final determination of when practices would actually begin would be up to individual school districts.
 
“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,” explains 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.”
 
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.
 
“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,” says 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.

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Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.