Nyssa and Four Rivers soccer players clash as the teams opened the 2019 prep soccer season. Soccer now won't be on high school fields until next spring. (The Enterprise FILE)

High school athletes in Malheur County won’t be back in competition until next year under a modified plan announced Wednesday by the Oregon School Activities Association’s executive board. Football and other fall sports will be conducted in March. 

Each season will be seven weeks long, OSAA said. 

The change will affect every high school in the county. 

According to OSAA: 

•Swimming, wrestling and basketball seasons will be between Dec. 28 and March 6 

•Cross country, volleyball, soccer and football seasons will be between February 22 and May 8

•Golf, tennis, track and field, baseball and softball seasons will be between April 19 and June 26

Students and coaches can begin practicing Aug. 31 with the approval of local districts for activities allowed under directives by the Governor’s Office, Oregon Health Authority and state Education Department 

Football, cheerleading and dance/drill are all considered full contact activities based on state guidelines and are prohibited. 

In a July 22 memo, OSAA said the ban would have to be lifted by Sept. 28 in order for a fall football season to happen. 

The change in seasons are due to school reopening metrics that Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority released last week, according to OSAA. The metrics require less than 10 Covid cases per 100,000 residents in the county over a week and a state and county positive test rate of 5% for schools to reopen. 

Moving the seasons back gives time for schools to return to classroom teaching and break past the metric. 

Virtually no county in Oregon has met those metrics. For Malheur County, only four cases a week would prevent schools from reopening. 

A 10-member group of education officials and area lawmakers is pushing to change those metrics for eastern Oregon. The state epidemiologist has said he is in talks to possibly change the metrics. 

In July 22 memo, OSAA announced that the first contest date for cross country, volleyball and soccer would be delayed from Aug. 27 to Sept. 23, with the originally-planned first fall practice date of Aug. 17 still in place. 

OSAA has not yet announced information about new music and speech and debate competitions since the new metrics. In a previous message, the OSAA said a contingency group would meet around early August to decide those events. 

OSAA prohibited multiple practice sessions in the same day for the 2020-21 school year, with no single practice session being longer than three hours and with a maximum of one hour of weight training “either before or after practice but not both,” the memo stated. Students participating in a fall sport or activity were required to practice for a minimum of nine days.\ 

On March 12, OSAA canceled all remaining winter state championships. Interscholastic practices and contests for sports and activities for OSAA member schools was suspended the next day through March 31, and by April 8, all remaining spring activities and state championships were cancelled, according to OSAA media releases. 

PRIOR COVERAGE

Rural schools in Malheur County could get help from group's work on state Covid restrictions

Local school district officials react to new Covid benchmarks

News tip? Contact reporter Aidan McGloin at [email protected] or at 541-235-1005.

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