Local Sports, Other Local Sports, Sports

WVSSAC, state officials working on color-coded system to determine fall sports playability

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The West Virginia Board of Education met Wednesday, bringing in WVSSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolan to discuss changes within the commission’s game plan for sports to continue as planned this fall.

“Our plan is to start Aug. 17 for the resumption of real practice, following sports-specific guidelines,” Dolan said. “Beginning Sept. 2, contests can begin if the squads meet the minimum number of practices.” 

Dolan noted that the WVSSAC is working with the state Department of Education and the Governor’s office to build guidelines as they pertain to spectators. The biggest update came in the form of a color-coded system, which will designate counties by different colors based on their coronavirus cases either green, yellow, orange or red. 

“I do appreciate Bernie is going to ensure that whatever happens with the schools [the WVSSAC] will have a counterpart for those colors that will impact extracurricular activities so there’s no confusion,” said Clay Marsh, state COVID-19 Czar and WVU vice president and executive dean for Health Sciences, during Gov, Jim Justice’s daily press briefing. 

If a county is in the red, it’s likely that there will be no sports. The full code hasn’t been released yet, as West Virginia COVID-19 Czar Clay Marsh and Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources Bill Crouch are currently working on the plan. The WVSSAC is also building its own system and will cross-examine it with the health professionals’ to deliver the best procedures possible. 

Monongalia and Cabell counties are the highest risks of an immediate spike in COVID-19 cases, which would likely render them red counties, due to the influx of college students at West Virginia and Marshall universities. 

When asked about specifics, Dolan noted that although the WVSSAC has them he wants to hold off on releasing them until the DOE color-coded system is released. Dolan was also pressed on game attendance.

“We’re certainly ready to give them more specific guidelines. We’ve given them play guidelines, we’re waiting on the metrics to give them guidance on attendance,” Dolan said. “I think you can expect the attendance will be little or very small, and it will be a manageable crowd that they can social distance. Our focus, number one, is safe play of the kids. Then it is the parents that have the ability to watch their children play. After that, everything becomes where you are in line with the color code.”