The spring sports season officially ended before it ever had a chance to begin Wednesday when Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced that schools would remain closed to in-person learning for the remainder of the school year.
The Oregon School Activities Association had kept up hopes of a short spring sports season on the chance that schools returned to session, but had announced earlier that it would be in line with the governor’s school closure plan.
“Today’s heart-wrenching decision is difficult for all members of the OSAA family,” OSAA Executive Director Peter Weber said in a press release. “We empathize with students and school communities, especially our graduating seniors, but recognize that these cancelations will allow our collective focus to remain where it’s most needed at this time — on the health and safety of all Oregonians.”
That was essentially Brown’s message in announcing the school closure during a press conference earlier in the day.
“My top priority will always be the health and safety of Oregonians,” she said. “That is at the forefront of my mind with every decision I make.”
Brown praised parents for the sacrifices they have been making since she put in the order closing schools.
“I also know that the measures we have put in place are necessary actions to save lives,” she said.
Brown said she made the decision to provide clarity for schools, students and parents.
“The best we can do is give everyone certainty by announcing the decision today to close in-person classes for the remainder of the school year.”
That was the news that OSAA officials and athletic directors around the state were bracing for, but hoping against.
“I think we all knew this was coming,” North Bend athletic director Mike Forrester said. “We kept hearing reports from (the Oregon Department of Education) about extended learning and distance learning. You just have to expect.
“And then when Washington canceled school, you knew it wasn’t going to be too long before we canceled school.”
And Forrester understands Brown’s decision.
“The bottom line right now is everybody needs to be smart,” he said. “Nobody likes it. Understand that we’re going to have disruptions and we aren’t going to be able to do everything we’ve done in the past.”
For a few weeks, there was at last some chance of spring sports.
“We had maintained hope for an abbreviated spring season to help bring a sense of normalcy to these uncertain times,” Weber said. “Now more than ever we need to apply the lessons learned through participation in education-based activities — teamwork, sacrifice, resilience — and play our role in adhering to the public health guidelines. We all look forward to the day when we play again.”
For now, all of the restrictions OSAA had put in place continue, including bans on the use of school facilities and coaches organizing or directing workouts or practices.
Weber said the OSAA Executive Board will meet in the coming weeks to discuss policies for summer activities, along with academic eligibility concerns for the fall that have been expressed by schools and families.
He said OSAA and its member schools are awaiting guidance from the Department of Education on credit attainment for students in grades 9 through 11 through the state’s Distance Learning for All initiative.
More information on OSAA policies, as well as health and safety resources related to COVID-19 is available on the OSAA webpage, www.osaa.org.