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Bailey: Schools made right choice delaying restart plans
Daily Bailey

Bailey: Schools made right choice delaying restart plans

Nearly all area high schools had hoped to bring their student-athletes back to campus this week. 

That's an understandable position to have. After all, it's been nearly four months since schools have had athletics after the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the spring sports season. 

A baseball game held at Valley Christian in Santa Maria on March 13 was the last competition before play was suspended and the season was later canceled. 

No league championships or CIF playoffs. No Senior Days. Then no Little League or Babe Ruth baseball. No FCA All-Star game. No 7-on-7 tournaments.

Just empty fields and empty locker rooms. 

So, of course, most schools would push to have students back on campus for workouts, even in a very limited fashion. St. Joseph and Mission Prep even started workouts last month.

July 6 was the date most schools had circled on their calendars. 

Then finally, amid some confusion and some precaution, the schools backed off plans to restart while others suspended any ongoing athletic activities last week. 

The County of San Luis Obispo put a stop to any plans its schools were putting together, denying a restart bid last week. Santa Maria Joint Union and Lompoc Unified both decided to hold off. Santa Ynez was shooting for July 13.

Delaying was clearly the best choice. 

I'm sure most schools thought the July 6 date allowed students and coaches to enjoy the holiday then return home and get back to work preparing for the fall season.

But having kids and coaches return to campus after an Independence Day weekend would've beeen a recipe for disaster.

The holiday wasn't celebrated in usual fashion, with most gatherings being limited in size and enthusiasm. But there was certainly still more congregating than a normal, non-holiday weekend. I'm sure some students and coaches met with family or a few friends for a cookout and fireworks. 

Movement was increased and social distancing relaxed for the Fourth of July. It's natural. It's almost impossible to avoid letting your guard down no matter how intent you are on listening to the governor's orders. 

To have people participating in Fourth of July activities and then meet up on campus the Monday after sounds like a very bad idea. Like one of those What-were-they-thinking? type of scenarios. 

So, it's good everyone has avoided coming together after the holiday. 

Now that athletics are paused once again, the question is now this: What's next?

Should schools start planning to return next week? Or the week after that?

Well, I think it'd be wise to wait a bit longer. 

The CIF office has set July 20 as the date it will make its determination on whether a fall 2020 sports season will go on as scheduled. Why rush back next week only to learn that there will not be a fall sports season and likely shut down again on July 20? Perhaps the best plan is to plan to return July 27 or thereabouts. If the CIF cancels or moves the fall season to January, you don't have to rush back and can plan to return in August or September.

"The CIF is prepared to offer alternative calendars if it is determined by July 20 that Fall sports may not start as scheduled due to ongoing public health and safety concerns," the CIF State office said last month.

What do I think will happen? I see almost no chance of having a fall sports season later this year. I don't see football happening, especially with people in attendance, this year. No way. (That football gate is a boost for many high school programs. They make good money on people attending games and buying food at the snack bar. So I don't see them rushing back and losing out on that while also taking on more liability to play in the fall).

So be prepared to go a bit longer without high school sports. I think the best course is to pack it in, wear your mask, take all other precautions and hope for football and other sports to happen in January when there could be a viable vaccine.

I say this because of the explosion in coronavirus cases in the region and state. I know you have to look deeper than raw case counts, but, remember, there's also a lag between cases and hospitalizations. If many of these cases do turn into hospitalizations and ICU cases, then be prepared for the worst and there will be larger problems than high school sports. 

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