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DOE: High school workouts allowed to begin Monday

Yap: Status of competition for spring sports soon to be determined by MIL ADs

Kory Shirota of Maui High School follows through on a single during a preseason game on Feb. 20, 2020. On Thursday, the state Department of Education gave the go-ahead for high school workouts for spring sports to begin Monday. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Athletic workouts for high school spring sports are allowed to begin on Monday, Maui Interscholastic League executive board president Jamie Yap confirmed Thursday.

The status of when and if competition can commence will be determined by the MIL athletic directors in the near future, Yap added.

“The memo is out, we can now start to move forward and plan for workouts to begin on March 8th,” said Yap, who is the Maui High School principal. “I think the athletic directors will determine the length of (time before competition) what is best for our student-athletes because there’s been some inactivity, supposedly inactivity up until this point, to make sure that the athletes moving forward will have enough time to have the appropriate workouts to be prepared for any type or sense of competition.”

A memo from state school superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto dated Wednesday said:

“The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) is shifting high schools to in-person and blended learning models statewide. This transition will allow high school athletic teams to begin workouts on high school campuses. Only high schools delivering in-person or blended learning models of instruction may enable athletic teams to start workouts on campus. Eligible students enrolled at these schools (including Charter and Specialty Schools) may participate in the workouts.”

The memo was attached to a 40-page packet titled “Return to Learn: School Reopening Plan-Guidance for Restarting Athletics.”

The plan was developed using protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS), HIDOE Return to Learn School Reopening Plan: Health and Safety Handbook, and Hawaii State Department of Health Guidance for Schools COVID-19.

Yap said the plan for return to competition is still being determined, but the usual minimum for games to happen is 10 practices. It could turn out to be more than that due to the layoff for the student-athletes, Yap said.

“I know they have been in discussion and it could be as soon as four weeks, it could be as long as six weeks, I think, when the athletic directors get together and determine the length of workouts before any type of competition begins,” Yap said.

Yap said with the preliminary nature of Thursday’s announcement, he expects MIL executive director Joe Balangitao to convene an AD meeting soon.

“With this memo coming forward, I think Joe will probably get the athletic directors (together) as soon as next week or early next week, I’m assuming, to have this discussion,” Yap said. “They have been in constant conversation up to this point, so they have a structure or model that they are going to work from as they were waiting for this.

“They have a sense of direction they’ve got to go, but nothing is set down and solid yet because all of the agreements that have got to be made moving forward.”

Still, Yap is very encouraged by Thursday’s news. He feels it is crucial to get the spring sports onto the field in some sense because that season was the first to be canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic last March.

“This is outstanding news,” Yap said. “I’m ecstatic. I always believed that athletics is an extension of the classroom and allowing our kids to have a sense of just working out and having a sense of athletics before school ends is very promising, especially for the athletes who missed this last year.

“We may not have a state tournament, we may not have the high quality of competition we’ve had in the past, but it’s a beginning to a sense of normalcy. It’s very promising, I’m excited about it.”

Yap emphasized that Thursday’s announcement is just another step in the road to resuming MIL athletics.

“There will be more news coming forward as we do the best work we can for the best interests of our student-athletes,” Yap said. “Again, I just ask for patience. I ask for patience from the community in regards to allowing the sports to start because there’s a lot of moving parts here.

“I ask for patience from the community because we still have to work with our county for practice and competition facilities, so please be patient, but just know that we can start, word is from the Department (of Education) we can start.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

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