School systems in several local counties, including Kanawha and Putnam, have decided to move their three-week summer practice sessions to the July 6-25 period because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Previously, most counties around West Virginia used the first opportunity to hold their approved three-week periods, which this year would have been June 8-27. However, school facilities currently remain closed by order of Gov. Jim Justice due to COVID-19, and plans for staging practice sessions in July are contingent on those orders being lifted by that time.
So far, six local counties have opted for the July 6-25 time frame — Kanawha, Putnam, Jackson, Logan, Lincoln and Clay. Cabell County has selected July 13-31, which are the latest dates counties can hold their practice sessions.
As of Friday afternoon, Boone, Mingo, Wayne and Wood counties had yet to declare which three-week block they would implement. Harrison County is also going with July 6-25.
The Secondary School Activities Commission allows coaches to work directly with athletes during the three-week summer period. Coaches have not been permitted to directly supervise athletes since all SSAC sports were shut down on March 12 in the middle of the girls basketball state tournament. All spring sports were also wiped out before they even started.
The boys basketball state tournament was not held for the first time since 1914 and the girls state tournament was not completed for the first time since 1976. The boys state track meet had been held continuously since missing 1917 for World War I, and the girls meet hadn’t missed since its first installment in 1975.
In recent years, the SSAC has given individual counties the freedom to decide which three summer weeks they would use, as long as the Fourth of July week was blocked out. This year, that week falls on June 29-July 4.
Most schools apparently were hoping that coronavirus measures will be loosened later in the summer. The so-far popular July 6-25 time frame allows athletes a one-week break before the scheduled start of preseason practices on Monday, Aug. 3.
On Aug. 3, the SSAC calendar calls for the start of practice in football, cheerleading, cross country, golf and boys and girls soccer. Volleyball practice is ticketed to begin Aug. 10.