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Gov. Wolf issues guidelines for sports

Lehigh Valley sports programs are on the verge of getting back together following preliminary guidelines released last week by Gov. Tom Wolf.

The press release stated that members of the PIAA can resume activities for programs in the yellow and green phases of the COVID-19 plan.

“Pennsylvania has some of the best athletes and teams in the country and they can now begin to safely return to organized sports,” Wolf said in a news release. “This guidance balances keeping student athletes safe from COVID-19 while allowing them to participate in an important part of their lives.”

Under the plan, each school would need to create an “Athletics and Health Safety Plan” that would need to be approved by their respective school board to resume sports related activities.

With Lehigh and Northampton Counties in the yellow phase as of this writing, that would limit workout sizes to a maximum of 25 participants. Once Lehigh and Northampton Counties get pushed into the green phase, that number would not exceed 250 people or 50% capacity of a facility. Carbon County was already in the green phase for our coverage area.

Whitehall Athletic Director and District 11 chairman, Bob Hartman, was excited to talk about the prospects of restarting activities with his fall sports coaches in a virtual meeting last week, marking a light at the end of a tunnel that canceled scholastic sports over the spring.

“I think we have our plan to present to the school board on June 22,” said Hartman. “We’ll have plans ready to submit for both the yellow and green phases and hopefully, if everything gets approved, we can have programs getting back at it a few days after that.”

Hartman mentioned that social distancing, cleanliness and making the sure the facility and equipment were properly sanitized were priorities in the plan, as well as taking all measures possible to reduce the possible transmission of COVID-19.

As far as what this means for sports to start on time in the fall, Hartman couldn’t say for sure, but was certainly optimistic about its chances.

“This is a great step going forward for sports in the fall,” he said. “Obviously, things can go backward and we certainly don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize that. We’ve been sitting at home long enough. We’re going to make sure we’re doing everything right.”