NJSIAA Alters Winter Plan, Pushes Back Sports Start Dates

NJSIAA Alters Winter Plan, Pushes Back Sports Start Dates

The school district will remain open for now for hybrid learning, but with added restrictions in response to the rise in COVID-19 cases.

Despite a late start and numerous interruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ocean City High School’s sports teams still powered through a difficult fall season, proving their strengths as a unit, according to a school press release.

Now that the first COVID-affected sports season is coming to an end, many athletes have been waiting in anticipation for the release of scheduling for the coming winter season.

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, the governing body for high school sports, announced it is pushing start dates back more than a month due to the surge in COVID cases and will also incorporate new safety guidelines.

Teams are looking at major changes in protocols, practice dates, as well as no competition until after the new year.

No winter sports will have NJSIAA-sponsored postseason tournaments.

Games and competitions will also be limited weekly.

The first practice for New Jersey athletics’ winter season will be for ice hockey on Dec. 14.

Ocean City’s sports will begin with basketball on Jan. 11. Track and field will begin practice alongside swimming on Feb. 1. Wrestling will no longer be played in early winter. Instead, it will begin March 1.

The goal seems to be to stretch out the season, limiting contact between the different sports. A full list of sports can be found on the NJSIAA website at https://bit.ly/331SIDn.

According to an NJSIAA press release, “Under Executive Order 196, indoor practices and competitions are limited to 10 persons, however, if the number of individuals who are necessary for the practice or competition, such as players, coaches, and referees, is greater than 10 persons, the practice or competition may proceed. If this exception applies, the number of individuals still may not exceed 25 percent of the capacity of the room in which it takes place, or 150 persons, whichever is less. Practically speaking, this means that spectators are prohibited.”

The Ocean City school district release says, “We understand that these may be difficult changes and followed by many challenges for our athletes looking to further their athletic careers beyond high school.”

The statement continues, “We are working hard to ensure students get the most out of our athletic seasons, while attempting to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation as we take all options and resources into consideration.”

The full winter schedule, plan and guidelines can be found on the NJSIAA website, https://bit.ly/331SIDn.