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NJSIAA head says fall sports season will look different

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There will be changes to the fall high school sports season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.

It’s just a matter of how extensive those changes will be.

“The upcoming fall sports season will not look like last year’s season,” NJSIAA chief operating officer Colleen Maguire said in a video message to the state’s student athletes Thursday. “While I do not have a crystal ball to predict how the season will be different, we can be assured there will be changes.”

Those changes could include reduced games and travel and shorter seasons that start later and end earlier, according to Maguire.

“We will all need to stay patient, be flexible and continue to be grateful for our families, our friends and our teammates every day,” Maguire said. “Constant communication and transparency will be the only way to get through this difficult period.”

Maguire urged the students to get sports physicals and maintain social distancing and other healthy practices.

“The more serious we take these health guidelines this summer the better the chances are for a full and successful sports season,” she said.

The NJSIAA announced last week that state high school sports will begin phase 1 of their return July 13. This phase lasts until July 26 and allows no-contact workouts that last a maximum of 90 minutes.

Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to announce Friday guidelines for the state schools to return for in-person learning this fall.

The NJSIAA has emphasized that high school sports must stay in sync with the return to school. The NJSIAA appears poised to give further details on how state high school sports will return after Murphy clarifies how schools will return.

The NJSIAA has formed two task forces to guide the comeback of high school sports from the pandemic.

The COVID-19 Sports Advisory Task Force consists of athletic directors who will consider a wide range of sports-specific proposals and recommendations with a focus on implementing, executing and enforcing potential modifications. This Task Force will seek input from athletic directors around the state.

The COVID-19 Medical Advisory Task Force consists primarily of medical professionals and will identify and implement both general and sports-specific modifications.

There has not been a high school sports event played in New Jersey since March 12. The virus canceled what was left of the winter season and all of the spring season.

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