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CIF will decide by July 20 whether fall sports schedules will continue as planned

Narbonne defender Lawson Hall returns an interception during a passing tournament.
The CIF announced guidelines for summer workouts on Friday.
(David McNew / For The Times)

Following three days of meetings, commissioners of the California Interscholastic Federation announced Friday that a decision will be made by July 20 whether fall sports will begin as scheduled. The CIF will be prepared to offer “alternative calendars” if needed due to “ongoing public health and safety concerns,” according to a statement released by the CIF office in Sacramento.

The CIF, which governs high school sports in California, also announced that parents can seek a waiver of transfer rules for financial hardship with proper documentation for the 2020-21 school year.

City Section Commissioner Vicky Lagos said the CIF remains committed “if possible to have three seasons of sports. If it can’t start in August, then whenever is possible.”

The CIF released physical activity guidelines for summer conditioning and gave school districts the option of granting a 30-day temporary waiver of the yearly physical exam requirement for fall sports in recognition that families may experience delays in getting access to a doctor because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The summer has become a critical period in terms of preparation for sports teams. Since schools were closed in mid-March because of the pandemic, athletic facilities such as weight rooms have been unavailable, causing particular concern among football coaches over whether there will be enough time to prepare for a season scheduled to begin Aug. 21.

But those football openers are almost certain to be delayed, with lots of school districts still undecided on how to proceed with classes this fall. The largest district in California, Los Angeles Unified, still has not given coaches clearance to work with athletes and facilities remain closed until the start of school Aug. 18.

The City Section title favorite, Lake Balboa Birmingham, is facing the difficult challenge of having scheduled four Southern Section opponents for nonleague games. Most of those Southern Section opponents could end up starting conditioning next week, while Birmingham, an independent charter that competes in the City Section, has no idea when its coaches will be able to bring players together. Birmingham has a game scheduled against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame on Aug. 21.

“If all the Southern Section teams are going back and we can’t do anything, I don’t know how we play them,” Birmingham coach Jim Rose said.

Several Southern Section athletic directors with games scheduled against City Section opponents have said they are exploring options, but the CIF gave no hints Friday on when the football season might start. Contingency plans include delaying the season until January.

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It remains up to school districts and private school principals to decide when to resume fielding teams after the spring sports season was canceled April 3. They have been following recommendations of their county health departments. The CIF has no control over summer competitions.

There are lots of issues to resolve before any sports competitions can begin this fall, including transportation and use of locker rooms.

School districts that normally allow coaches to hold summer camps have begun scheduling openings with stringent requirements such as social distancing measures and cleaning equipment. Southern Section summer dead periods end next week for dozens of schools, clearing the way for them to begin workouts with district approval.

Los Alamitos is allowing sports camps to begin Monday. Simi Valley and Royal have been given clearance to begin June 22. Capistrano Valley Unified is allowing workouts starting July 6. Several private schools want to start conditioning next week. Chatsworth Sierra Canyon will begin workouts on Monday.

Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod has said safety and health concerns would be given top priority in deciding how to proceed.


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