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Extension of school closure a blow to potential resumption of prep sports

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — With Gov. Jim Justice announcing an extension of school closure statewide until at least April 20, the potential for the resumption of high school sports in the near future suffered another blow Wednesday.

“We’re approaching a point of no return,” said Bernie Dolan, Executive Director of the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission.

Dolan and WVSSAC officials will have a conference call Thursday, “to get a better feel for where we’re going to go,” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to spread throughout West Virginia.

Bernie Dolan

Thursday marks two weeks since Dolan announced the suspension of the girls basketball state tournament in Charleston, along with regional play in boys basketball. All eight boys Class AA regional co-finals were slated to be played later that night, while nine of 21 games were completed at girls states.

“The further we get beyond today, the further we are from the last time they’ve had any practices,” Dolan said. “How much time would they need to get back up and running?”

Spring sports teams were originally permitted to continue preseason practices after the suspension of basketball season, but that changed the next day.

Now, with coronavirus cases rising daily across the state, spring sports face a far later start than normal — if there is one at all.

“Going well into June is doable, but well into July I don’t think is doable,” Dolan said. “We’ve been into June before with track in 1994, but it is difficult if you move all sports.”

As much as Dolan would like to see high school sports resume, the well-being of citizens comes first.

“We’ll have to set a date in our mind as to when we’d have to be back in school to have spring sports,” Dolan said. “We all want sports, but if it’s not smart and safe to bring them back, we won’t do it just to say we brought them back.

“People who make bad decisions on day one pay for it down the road. We’ll be very conservative with our approach.”