OKLAHOMA CITY – The high school athletic seasons are moving ahead as schedule, according to David Jackson, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association.
Jackson confirmed in his regular address to statewide media that information from various sources continues to be received by the OSSAA and that its decision is currently to stay the course as scheduled.
“Lots of research went into that decision,” Jackson said. “We’ve paid close attention to what our numbers are and we pay attention to what is going on at the collegiate level. Not any one of those entities drives our decision, but it’s a collection of information.
“And we have surveyed our schools to get their thoughts. After collecting all that information, we decided it was best to go forward and participate in our activities as long as we can.
“Our schools have their protocols in place to stay safe and they’re using their local and county guidelines as well.”
Jackson said also that the association has sent information to the schools that all of this could change at any time, if the health situation were to change.
He also confirmed that there had been discussion as to moving the Class 5A and Class 6A football schedules, as well as all of the classes of football, if there were to be a benefit in that.
“Based on the information we gathered, we felt like the majority of our schools wanted to go forward and we felt that moving forward would be our best option,” Jackson said.
“There’s just no certainty on later on being better. A lot of the school officials recognized that.”
There is not mandate across the board for fans to wear masks, but Jackson said it is the stand of the OSSAA that fans should wear them.
“We believe so. That will be the school’s call during the regular season. The information that we get from the public health officials is that wearing masks is the best way to mitigate the spread of the virus.
“We are looking to make that a requirement where we take over the management (of the games in the playoffs).”
An issue that could become a big one is the eligibility of students who would transfer from a school that individually suspends athletic competition to move to a school where athletics are being offered.
Jackson addressed the situation with Sequoyah-Tahlequah High School, at which activities are suspended for the first nine weeks and said there are other schools that may do likewise for the first quarter or first semester.
He said that students transferring out of one district into another was out of the hands of the OSSAA and it is unclear as to whether a potential receiving school would even be able to accept incoming students. But as for the eligibility for participation, policies are already in place, as well as options in which a hardship might be afforded.
“We are sticking to the rules in our policies that once established in a school, a transfer would be required to sit out a year after the transfer,” Jackson said.
“We are looking at a hardship basis as to whether a student is not able to transfer in an activity – an activity has been dropped – and we are able to look at that on an individual basis, as to whether or not a student would be able to participate in an activity that they previously been able to participate. We can consider those individually or a hardship basis.
“We would get as much information from the sending and the receiving school as we could. We will dig into it and get as much information as we could before we make a final decision.”
Moving all activities to the spring has been considered, but Jackson said it was far from being Plan A.
“We know that other state associations have done that. Even now, if we were to have to suspend our activities in the next week or two, moving everything to the spring is certainly an option, but based on the information we have received from the schools, we want to make that a final option.”