Spring sports — and the possible conclusion of the postseason for winter sports — across the state have been postponed for at least another week because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
On Monday, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that all schools — K-12 — in Pennsylvania will remain closed for at least the next two weeks. Now, the earliest schools could reopen is April 6.
The governor previously said that schools would be closed for two weeks starting March 16, so his latest directive, in effect, adds one more week (March 30 through April 3) to that, for now.
On Monday (March 23), Wolf issued a “stay at home” directive to citizens in seven counties, including Allegheny County, for the next two weeks. It’s a directive that also closes all commonwealth schools and non-essential businesses for another two weeks.
“The governor is taking a measured approach in mitigation to assist in combating the coronavirus,” a statement from the PIAA read.
That means the start of spring sports will be postponed for another two weeks and the possible re-start of the winter championships will continue to be put on hold. No date has been determined to re-start any activities at this time, but the winter championships and spring sports seasons remain postponed.
The PIAA will continue to receive information from the governor’s office, Department of Health and Department of Education to provide updated information.
“As we navigate through this difficult time, we need to remember the lessons that interscholastic athletics have taught us; cooperation, patience, sacrifice, responsibility, respect and perseverance,” the statement from the PIAA read. “We will provide more information as it becomes available to us.”
Locally, the mandate not only affects the spring sports seasons at Greater Latrobe, Derry Area and Ligonier Valley, but also the conclusion of the winter championships.
The PIAA suspended the Class AA Swimming and Diving Championships for a minimum two-week period on March 12, a directive that remains in effect. Two Derry Area athletes, Ali Cowan and Jake Buhite, were set to compete in diving and the 100 breaststroke, respectively, while Ligonier Valley’s Brooke Roadman and Nick Roddy were also slated to take part in diving.
The PIHL also announced on March 12 that it supported the ongoing two-week hiatus for the PIHL Penguins Cup playoffs. The Greater Latrobe hockey team was scheduled to play Baldwin in the PIHL Class AA Penguins Cup championship game at the Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry Township.
The IceCats defeated Hempfield Area, 3-2, during the semifinals of the PIHL Class AA Penguins Cup playoffs one day before the league decided to postpone its end-of-season tournament.
Greater Latrobe athletic director Mark Mears said that the closure date of April 6 makes it a tough situation to navigate.
“With schools closing for different periods, it makes it an even bigger challenge,” Mears said. “For example, Pine-Richland is already closed until May 1.
“I have fingers crossed for our seniors and coaches, but I also know we can’t jeopardize the safety of student-athletes.”
Ligonier Valley athletic director Corey Turcheck noted how the district is handling the current situation.
“I think that all of us have come to grips with the magnitude of the situation,” Turcheck said. “We don’t have any control, so, we, at Ligonier Valley, are fully focused on providing an outstanding education to all of our students.”
Turcheck lauded the response of Ligonier Valley administrators, teachers and more, contributing to the current education of its students.
“I cannot say enough of how proud we are with the almost immediate mobilization of continuing to educate our students,” Turcheck said. “We will continue this highly intensive effort to the end of this situation.
“If in the end, there is an athletic season, that will be a bonus for sure...especially for our seniors. We are always hopeful.”