Though the Public School System has started a new school year, interscholastic sports competition won’t be happening anytime soon.
PSS Student Support Services Athletic Program director Nick Gross said that with restrictions and safety measures still in effect to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, they would like to focus for now on getting schools cleared for face-to-face classes and virtual instructions.
“Due to the vast majority of our students not attending face-to-face classes at campuses in the coming months, the PSS Athletic Program Department is working out ways to ensure equitable opportunities for all kids regarding sporting activities. However, the current guidelines regarding social distancing make this pretty tough to roll out. So, we have postponed the opening of athletic programs until November, at the earliest, pending the CNMI’s pandemic condition as we slowly open up the school year,” Gross said.
Initially, Gross has started dialogues with schools and coaches to discuss the programs that could be modified to work under these challenging times. Group sports were out of the equation, as mass gatherings, such as competitions, are discouraged, while cross country races were considered since they are held outdoors and are identified as “low risk” sports. However, no decisions have been made yet as far as going ahead with interscholastic sports tournaments with the CNMI still in Community Vulnerability Level “Blue” or one step away from the desired level (“Green”) with limitations set for business hours and in-person interactions.
Gross is asking for everyone’s patience, as his department works with authorities in ensuring the safety of all involved in the program before kicking of any sports-related activities in schools.
“This is a difficult situation as we recognize the importance of sporting opportunities for our youth in relation to their social, emotional, and physical needs. That said, we are unwilling to put any of our kids in harm’s way or lead to a situation that could spread COVID-19, should any community cases arise,” the many-time CNMI national athlete said.
“For those students, parents, and community members that are literally starving for the resumption of sporting opportunities, please know that I understand and will work tirelessly to get things going as quickly as possible. In the meantime, continue exercising regularly to increase and maintain your cardiovascular strength and endurance while also using this time to refine individual skills necessary for your success in the sporting arena. Stay safe, stay focused, and stay healthy, CNMI,” Gross added.
The last time the PSS held a competition was in mid-March this year with the staging of the playoff round of the 2019-2020 PSS Interscholastic Boys High School Basketball League and the finale of the 2019-2020 PSS Interscholastic High School Canoe Race Series.
When the CNMI government started implementing restrictions to public gathering last March 14, PSS called off the playoff round of the 2019-2020 PSS Interscholastic Boys Middle School Volleyball League, while the PSS /McDonald’s All Schools Track and Field Championship was also canceled.