The plan to play Fall sports in New Jersey will go forward except for two indoor sports.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) released it’s Return-to-Play Plan for the 2020–2021 on Aug. 20, allowing outdoor sports to start practice on Sept. 14, while rescheduling girls volleyball and gymnastics to later in the scholastic calendar.
All outdoor Fall sports—including cross country, field hockey, football, soccer, and girls tennis— will start practice on Sept. 14. Field hockey and football were given an optional early start of Sept. 11 for “heat acclimatization” purposes.
Girls tennis will begin competition on Sept. 28, followed by cross country, field hockey and soccer on Oct. 1, and opening day for the football season will be Oct. 2.
Thanksgiving football games will be permissible after Nov. 22 at each school’s discretion.
Gymnastics and girls volleyball are being moved to a new carved out season—Season 3— that has the start date of practices as Feb. 16, 2021 and competition starting March 3, 2021.
Season 3 will be used as a back-up should the Fall season need to be suspended due to deteriorating health circumstances. In the event of a suspension, NJSIAA will consider the percent of the season that has been completed and will evaluate whether the season should be resumed.
Subject to Change
The association noted all of these dates are subject to change based on guidance from the Gov. Phil Murphy and the state’s Department of Health.
“We’re extremely appreciative of the support and guidance from Gov. Phil Murphy, (State) Sen. Paul Sarlo and Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly,” said NJSIAA COO Colleen Maguire in a press statement. “Our kids need structured activity, and we believe that education-based high school sports is the best way to provide it. Giving teenagers extra motivation to stay COVID-free promotes healthy outcomes for everyone.”
Murphy, Sarlo and Wimberly all voiced their support for Fall outdoor sports in a press briefing Aug. 17.
In the schedule announced, schools will have the opportunity to participate in one pre-season scrimmage, preferably with a neighboring school. The scrimmage may occur any time within seven days of the regular season. When possible, schools are encouraged to participate in intrasquad scrimmages and utilize officials to provide additional preseason preparation.
Out-of-state competition is prohibited, unless a waiver is granted for exceptional circumstances.
The NJSIAA will strive to open postseason participation, structured regionally based on counties or based on NJSIAA Sections. The 2019–2020 classifications will be relied on if Sectional championships are hosted.
Winter sports teams may begin practicing on Dec. 3, with games beginning Dec. 21 and ending Feb. 3, 2021. NJSIAA will host postseason competition from Feb. 5, 2021 through Feb. 17, 2021.
Girls volleyball and gymnastics will start practice on Feb. 16, 2021. Regular season competition will begin March 3, 2021 and end on April 14, 2021. NJSIAA will host postseason competition from April 15, 2021 through April 24, 2021.
These same dates will apply to any fall sport that must be played during Season 3.
NJSIAA said dates for the Spring sports season will be announced at a later date, but believed practice start date and regular season start date will most likely be pushed back for all Spring sports. As a result regular season and postseason will most likely end later than prior years for those sports that have such flexibility.
The association said spring start dates, regular season and postseason dates may be staggered by sport, but is committed to maximize the Spring season due to the loss of season last school year.
As of Aug. 21, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 188,817 with 313 new cases and 13 new deaths, bringing that total to 14,112. The state probable death count remained at 1,829, bringing the overall total to 15,941.
State officials noted 11 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,878, followed by Bergen at 1,788, Hudson with 1,344, Passaic at 1,099, Morris at 683, Sussex at 161 and Warren with 158.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 244, Essex has 234, Hudson has 166, Passaic and Morris at 147, Sussex has 37 and Warren has 13.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Aug. 16 was 1.4%. The state is no longer using serology tests as health officials explained those results show a past presence of the disease as well as a current one. By region, the north tested at 1.2%, the central at 1.0% and the south 2.9%.
As for the rate of transmission, it decreased to 1.04 from 1.06 the day before. Officials have continually cited transmission rate and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.
Officials reported 414 patients are hospitalized, with 212 confirmed cases and 193 patients under investigation for having coronavirus. The north tier had 199 patients hospitalized, the central 96 and the south 119.
Of those hospitalized, 61 are in intensive care units and 30 on ventilators, while 43 patients were discharged.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 21,282, followed by Essex at 20,052, Hudson at 19,989, Middlesex at 18,219, Passaic at 18,085, Union at 16,947, Ocean at 10,857, Monmouth at 10,545, Camden at 8,920, Mercer at 8,248, Morris at 7,391, Burlington at 6,247, Somerset at 5,336, Atlantic at 3,651, Gloucester at 3,516, Cumberland at 3,475, Warren at 1,377, Sussex at 1,358, Hunterdon at 1,182, Salem at 945 and Cape May at 867.
Another 328 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
The racial breakdown of the record deaths was 54% White, 20% Hispanic, 18% Black, 6% Asian and 2% another race. Murphy has noted the rates in the black and Hispanic communities are running about 50% more than their population in the state.
In regards to the underlying disease of those who have passed, 56% had cardiovascular disease, 45% diabetes, 31% other chronic diseases, 18% neurological conditions, 17% lung diseases, 15% chronic renal disease, 10% cancer and 14% other. Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli has stated most cases have multiple underlying conditions which would push the percentage of 100%.
A census of ages for confirmed deaths shows 48% of deaths are of those 80 year old and up, 31% in the range of 65-80, 16% between 50-65 and 5% under the age of 49.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 196 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 13,464 of the cases, broken down between 8,556 residents and 4,908 staff.
Cumulatively, 635 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 24,674 residents and 13,124 staff, for a total of 37,798 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,043 on Aug. 21. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,702 residents deaths and 120 staff deaths.