Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Health Department Secreatry Dr. Rachel Levine announced Wednesday that youth, high school sports, and other extracurricular activities in the state are expected to restart as soon as 8 AM Monday, when a state-wide quarantine order is set to lift, in part.
For Pennsylvania high schools, that means swimming & diving, wrestling, gymnastics, bowling, competitive spirit, and basketball will be allowed to continue.
Most youth and high school sports in the state shut down on December 12 when Wolf instituted orders tightening restrictions across the state in several sectors. Teams can resume high school competition as soon as January 8, assuming they have met two requirements set out before Christmas:
- Teams must have had at least 10 total practices, including pre-season practices, to resume play; and,
- Teams that had a pre-season training program, including those that already competed pre-lockdown, must have at least 4 more practices beginning Monday to resume competition
Virtual practices are not allowed, and schools may not shorten the return-to-competition period by holding multiple practices in a day. Teams that wish to scrimmage must have held a minimum of 5 practices, unless 6 or more preseason practices were completed. Then, only 4 practices are needed before competition resumes.
Pennsylvania began its 2020 high school state championship meet in March before the front-end of the coronavirus pandemic wound up canceling the last session of the AAA (big school) championship and the entirety of the AA (small school) championship.
Safety protocols will still be required to resume activities as safely as possible.
This will also allow club competitions and practices, including USA Swimming, to resume in the state. The state was host to a significant site of competition for the USA Swimming 18 & Under Winter Championships in early December, where Josh Matheny broke a National Age Group Record in the 200 breaststroke. That meet had to be moved earlier and condensed to 2 days in order to be completed before the order went into effect.
When the shutdown began in Pennsylvania, the 7-day rolling average of new cases was 9,975; as of Thursday, that number had fallen to 7,134 new daily average cases.
The number of hospitalizations attributed to COVID-19 peaked at 6,151 on December 22, and on Thursday data collected by the New York Times reported 5,677 COVID-19 patients in the state’s hospitals, which is a decrease of about 7%.
The state’s order followed stricter orders instituted by some local municipalities, including the state’s largest city Philadelphia. Philadelphia has extended its ban on most indoor events through January 15, but has said that it may allow gyms and museums to reopen when the statewide restrictions expire on January 4.