Photo: Clarendon College celebrate retaining the Olivier Shield after defeating Jamaica College 4-2 on penalties last season.
High school sports, which forms the bedrock of sporting activity in Jamaica, was severely affected in March with the arrival of the first few cases of the Covid-19 on the island.
The presence of the virus then, led to the cancellation of the nation’s and the region’s largest high school track and field event, the ISSA/GraceKenndey Boys and Girls Athletics Championships and all other high school sporting events that were set to follow.
The cancellation of “Champs” dealt a severe blow to a number of high school athletes hoping to secure scholarships to universities both locally and overseas.
Now with the new school year fast approaching the big question on the mind of local sports enthusiasts, is whether or not there will be a return of high school sports for the rest of the calendar year?
The government had up to recently seemed to have things under control as it relates to the virus on the island, but the surge in the number of cases over the last few days has become a cause for major concern.
ISSA has revealed in a press release that intend to continue to monitor the situation even as they await an ultimate decision on the playing of high school sports over the next few months.
“The Executive continues to be mindful of the fluidity of issues relating to the spread of COVID-19 and the inherent risks that may be involved with engaging students for training and competition.
“As a result, while we will continue to engage our stakeholders and make plans for the resumption of competitions, if and when it is safe to do so,” it was stated in the release.
ISSA has charged principals to also closely monitor the situation when determining the resumption of training activities for sports such as football and netball.
“We are encouraging principals to carefully assess the current circumstances and make a determination as to their individual school's capabilities of engaging students in training activities at this time. Any such assessment must be aligned to our draft protocol document as well as related guidelines previously shared with schools.”
The ultimate decision for the return of sports in schools lies with the government and ISSA has said that they are awaiting written approval from the authorities.
“Although we have shared our plans and protocol documents with the Ministries of Education and Health, as well as engaged them verbally on same, we are yet to receive written permission confirming their approval and support which they have verbally expressed.”
Importantly, the major players are all onboard with the resumption of sports in a safe and secure environment, during the upcoming school term.
“The significant majority of our stakeholders/partners, including sponsors and the Ministries of Education and Health have expressed support for our plans to resume competitions, should it be deemed safe for us to do so at the proposed time.”
And while uncertainty abounds, ISSA has made it clear as to the time when they are likely to make a final decision on whether or not sports will be played this year.
“We have agreed to make a final decision, no later than mid-September, as to whether or not we will stage any competition during the Christmas term of the new school year”