Editor’s note: This post will be updated with the latest information on the impact of coronavirus on high school athletics in Washington. Last updated at 3 p.m. on Friday, March 20.
As the Washington high school sports calendar turns from winter to spring, school districts and event organizers around the state are taking various measures, including postponement and cancellations of sports and activities, to slow the spread of coronavirus.
On Friday, Washington state governor Jay Inslee expanded a mandated ban on 250-person gatherings and the closure of all K-12 schools across the entire state of Washington through April 24 at the earliest.
That means at least until then, no organized high school sports.
The directive came two days after Inslee ordered the same in the greater Seattle area — King, Pierce and Snohomish counties — which has become ground zero for the spread of the virus, which the World Health Organization labeled a global pandemic.
- Oregon high school basketball state tournaments closed to fans
- CIF canceled California state basketball championships
The WIAA’s role in all of this is limited. The association only oversees championship events, as it was structured to cede control to schools, leagues and the WIAA’s nine districts.
“Regarding regular season contests and practices, those decisions are at the discretion of each school and school district,” WIAA Sports and Activities Information Director Casey Johnson said Thursday in an email.
But that hasn’t mattered since Gov. Inslee stepped in and closed all schools.
Here are the latest developments on how the coronavirus is affecting high school sports in Washington:
Gov. Inslee closes K-12 schools across Washington through late April.
Inslee announced the closure of all K-12 schools across the state, after marking the shutdown of schools and their sports and activities as a result.
The closures marked a sweeping statewide decision two days after the same directives were given to the greater Seattle area — King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties — which followed Seattle Public Schools’ announcement of the closure of all schools for two weeks.
WIAA announced positive COVID-19 cases associated with Tacoma, Yakima state basketball championships
The WIAA announced at least one attendee at both the 1A/2A state basketball tournament in Yakima and the 3A/4A tournament in Tacoma have since tested positive for COVID-19.
The Tacoma case, the infected individual was classified as a “tournament worker” who displayed symptoms after the tournament was over, and health officials deemed them a “low risk for those involved with the event.”
The attendee in Yakima was at the SunDome from around 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on championship Saturday (March 7). In Tacoma, the emplo
In each case, the association was advised by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and the Yakima Health District to alert anyone present who begins to show signs of COVID-19 symptoms to contact their health care provider.
Will the spring sports championships be played?
The high school spring sports season officially began on March 2, though as the severity of preventing the spread of the virus has elevated, none are being played as all schools across the state remain closed.
Per the WIAA, the spring sports championships, which are set to take place May 23-30, will remain as scheduled if schools are permitted to open up after April 24, “however staff will continue to work with the Department of Health over the coming months to determine if any changes are necessary,” the association said in a release.
On Tuesday, the WIAA released a video outlining what that may look, and called upon coaches, athletic directors and team leaders to make sure students follow the social isolation guidelines.
Two weeks ago, WIAA executive director Mick Hoffman said the association was working with schools to provide waivers, if needed, to work around the number of practices required before participating in games.
Hoffman said the WIAA is planning on running spring sporting events as scheduled.
“We’re going to give a blanket waiver to practice accommodations. Means you have the ability to practice seven days a week and count all those to your pre-practice requirements. You can practice twice a day with a reasonable break in between, and/or you can practice on a gameday,” Hoffman said, adding so long as a coach is present.
He also said schools and leagues can determine what their respective schedules look like.
Here is the WIAA’s most recent video:
Yakima Valley/Tri-Cities all-star basketball showcase postponed
The SWX all-star boys and girls basketball games, an annual showcase that features players from the Yakima Valley and Tri-Cities area, cancelled Sunday’s showcase.
“…there is no excuse to move forward with business as usual when the world sees the need to press pause in virtually all other arenas,” the statement read.
See the full statement below:
Spokesman-Review basketball showcase postponed
The Spokesman-Review High School Basketball Showcase, originally scheduled to take place Tuesday, March 17, has been postponed, the newspaper announced Wednesday.
“In making this decision, we took into consideration Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s ban of public gatherings of more than 250 people in three western Washington counties, Seattle Public Schools closing for two weeks and the NCAA prohibiting fans from attending the NCAA Tournament games – including at the Spokane Arena,” the announcement read.
The one boys and one girls high school all-star game was set to take place at Lewis and Clark High School. The Spokesman said it is committed to playing the games, and will reschedule in accordance with the Spokane School District and the City of Spokane when it is deemed safe. (READ MORE HERE)
State coaches association cancels all-state games
The Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association announce Thursday morning it is cancelling the All-State games, set to take place on March 21.
“We apologize for having to make this decision but are doing so based off the health and safety of our student-athletes and their families and following the advice of local and state authorities,” WIBCA said in a follow-up tweet.
The games were set to take place at Curtis High School. On Thursday afternoon, all K-12 Pierce County schools, private and public, were forced to close through April 27.
McDonald’s All-American Game cancelled
The 43rd McDonald’s All-American Games announced they will be cancelled, event organizers announced Thursday afternoon.
The boys and girls games were set to take place on April 1 in Houston, Tex. Hailey Van Lith of Cashmere and Dalayah Daniels of Garfield were among 48 selections across the nation to play in the game.
WIAA postpones State Drama Festival, State Dance/Drill, Debate Tournaments
The WIAA announced the postponement of state drama festival, state dance and state drill championships on Thursday “until further notice.”
The news came after the WIAA announced on March 7 it would postpone the state debate tournament and individual events tournaments.
The boys and girls state basketball championships, which took place a three locations statewide last week, were held without organizational changes, at the recommendation of the state’s department of health.
Guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus from the Center for Disease Control were distributed, as thousands of fans convened in the Tacoma Dome, Yakima SunDome and Spokane Arena from March 4-7.
Inslee declared a state of emergency in Washington on Feb. 29.