District 3 officials still awaiting for some guidance from PIAA, state

The (Carlisle) Sentinel (TNS)

Without any further guidance from Gov. Tom Wolf's administration or the PIAA, there was not much District 3 could say Wednesday morning during its monthly meeting.

The district’s board last met via Zoom on May 21, a day after the PIAA’s most recent board meeting. The PIAA doesn’t meet again until June 15, and neither it nor Wolf have provided many further details as to how the state’s high schools can get sports back up and running.

“I do not [know what guidelines everyone is looking for], and I don’t want to speak out of church,” District 3 chairman Douglas Bohannon said to reporters at the end of the meeting, which wrapped up just short of noon. “But I think there’s a task force put together that’s working with that, but I’m not 100% sure. So I don’t think it’s one person working on that, so I think there’s a group of people who will be tackling that task. But I don’t know for 100% sure.”

That comment came minutes after the Pennsylvania Department of Education released preliminary school reopening guidelines, which were published just before District 3’s meeting. The guidelines didn’t not lay out plans for organized team sports, saying “guidance … will be published separately.” The DOE said schools must follow “CDC considerations for Youth Sports” for recess and gym classes.

That leaves the PIAA, District 3 and schools in the dark at least for a little longer as the state inches closer to releasing those guidelines.

The Department of Health released FAQ's on May 22 reaffirming organized team sports can resume under green phase, but did not provide details as to how or in what form.

The district mostly touched on committee reporters from each sport — Stephanie Deibler and Pat Tully offered a little dry humor reporting proudly this year’s district baseball and softball went off without rain delays — provided updates on upcoming PIAA rules changes to unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and sub-varsity football, finalized its 2020-21 meeting schedule and discussed the District 3 postseason brackets.

The latter is not yet finalized until the PIAA finalizes its state brackets, which is expected at the next meeting.

As with the previous meeting, the district leadership did briefly touch on the status of fall sports and summer workouts during the coronavirus pandemic. And like the last meeting, it’s still very much in a wait-and-see phase.

Bohannon reiterated to the dozens in attendance — May’s meeting eclipsed 160 viewing athletic directors, media members and board members, whereas Wednesday’s meeting was closer to a quarter of that number — July 1 is still the likely return date. As of this time, no counties in District 3, including Cumberland County, are in the green phase of the state’s reopening policy. That is expected to change in the coming weeks for at least some of those counties.

“I think the pieces will be what is allowed, and what will we be permitted to do?” Bohannon said. “Once we get the guidelines and once we know what we’re permitted to do — and what I mean by that — is if it’s football, will they be allowed to meet in groups of 10? Will they be allowed to meet in groups of 15? Can they meet three days a week? I don’t know what that looks like. I think that information will be given to us. I don’t think we’ll be making those decisions. When that happens, as stated at the last PIAA meeting, some areas will be able to get started before others.”

Lower Dauphin athletic director and field hockey/basketball chairman Dave Bitting voiced one bit of concern during the meeting. He cited schools efforts to hold virtual or parade-style graduation ceremonies as a situation where it seems those schools are trying “to one-up somebody at this point in time.”

“We got challenges ahead of us, and I don’t want to belabor those at this point because we don’t have any of the guidelines right now,” Bitting said. “But once we receive those guidelines and start moving forward, I think it’s important that we are all on the same page as a district and we’re consistent how we’re handling things.”

Bohannon added he thinks people are “getting optimistic.”

“But what optimistic and brighter means, we don’t know yet,” he said. “But hopefully things will look good for the fall in some manner.”

District 3 isn’t scheduled to have another meeting until Aug. 10, but Bohannon said they may have one or two more meetings before then once state and PIAA guidelines are released. No dates are set for those meetings.

Other news

Bohannon thanked Hal Griffiths and Rich Czarnecki for their years of serving with District 3. Czarnecki was most recently the male officials rep, and Griffiths served as the cross country chairman and was on the executive committee. “It’s been a real, real great experience that I would not give up for anything,” Griffiths said. “I appreciate being a part of this, being around you outstanding people,” Czarnecki said. “I’m gonna miss it.”

District 3 is also considering getting rid of printed postseason programs and doing them all digitally going forward. Treasurer Robert Baker said it’s likely if they tallied the total cost and revenue from the sports that produce printed programs, the district is probably losing money. Bitting said it would be a good opportunity to give sports that don’t have a program a digital version to be consistent with all sports.

Bitting will serve as the district’s third representative on the PIAA board during the next two-year cycle which starts this year.

A pair of co-ops were approved unanimously for the next two-year cycle: York County School of Technology will host Christian School of York, York High and York Country Day in boys wrestling, and York County School of Technology will host Christian School of York, York Country Day and York Catholic in field hockey.