ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association marked the initial step toward a fall season return to high school sports with the release of initial guidelines for summer workouts, formally known as the “summer recess period,” according to a June 19 press release from the NJSIAA.
“The governor’s announcement today regarding youth and recreation sports is another positive step in our collective effort to return to play. It’s important to note, however, that while these particular guidelines are instructive, they don’t directly apply to high school athletics,” the NJSIAA said in a June 15 statement. “Any scholastic sports program is part of the overall curriculum, and so must be appropriately in sync with all other facets of the school. High school athletics cannot function independently from schools — which, of course, are currently focused on the safe return of more 1.3 million students, including 283,000 high school student-athletes. In short, scholastic sports present far more pressing and complex considerations than do youth and recreation-level programs.
“NJSIAA strongly believes that with summer workouts starting in July, student athletes will have more than enough time to prepare for the fall season.”
If member schools wish, they may begin summer workouts on July 13; this phase will continue until at least July 26. Additional guidelines and specific timing for subsequent phases are pending, and details will be shared no less than two weeks before the next phase begins. Start dates for all fall sports remain unchanged, though NJSIAA continues to emphasize that all dates are subject to revision. Full guidelines for the summer recess period are accessible online at www.njsiaa.org/events-news-media/news/njsiaa-provides-return-play-guidelines-phase-1.
“These guidelines represent the first of a succession of steps toward meeting our return to play targets,” NJSIAA COO Colleen Maguire said June 19. “But, it’s important that we take a disciplined approach and stay mindful of health and safety concerns for all.”
Established by NJSIAA’s pair of COVID-19 task forces, the guidelines follow Gov. Phil Murphy’s Executive Order No. 149 and are in accordance with New Jersey Department of Education, New Jersey Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Federation of State High School Associations guidelines. Coaches may continue virtual contact with players until the beginning of the summer recess period.
“Unlike youth and recreation sports — which are operating on an accelerated schedule — high school sports must remain in sync with our schools,” NJSIAA Assistant Director Tony Maselli said June 19. “Scholastic athletics are part of the school curriculum; they don’t operate independently. As the most densely populated state and one that was significantly impacted by COVID-19 during the spring, New Jersey is working to safely return to school more than 1.5 million teachers and students — including 283,000 scholastic athletes — without causing a significant spike. Our guidelines provide a staged approach to those schools that wish to move forward during July. And, at the same time, they give student athletes time to ease into more rigorous activities.”