Athletic suspensions coronavirus

Schools across the East Valley have announced all athletic practices and events would be suspended in light of growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a letter sent to Tempe Union district parents and community members Friday, all extracurricular activities and athletics would not go on as planned after the district announced it would close schools effective Monday, March 16. Athletic teams are also being told not to practice. 

“If we have information or reason to believe that we can resume with athletic practices, competition, and other extracurricular activities, we will communicate with students, coaches, and sponsors,” officials wrote in the letter.

Desert Vista head track and field coach David Klecka said shortly after the announcement that he was in the process of informing organizers of the Chandler Rotary Invitational, which is scheduled to take place on March 20-21, that his team was no longer able to compete.

“I’m just going to tell our kids to stay active and we will take things week-by-week,” Klecka said.

Valley Christian High School announced Friday it would also be postponing all athletic events until Monday, March 23. Classes will be postponed until Friday, March 20. 

"The leadership of Valley Christian has been monitoring the spread of COVID-19 for weeks and meeting regularly to discuss the potential impact it could have on our school community. It is our desire to preserve the health and safety of our entire community while also maintaining educational continuity for our students," a letter to families said. "While we continue to have no cases of COVID-19 at VCS, it is becoming evident that it is not a matter of if a community spread occurs, but when. It is also becoming more evident that social distancing practices help slow down and contain the spread.

"After prayerful consideration and discussion, we have decided to postpone classes across all three campuses until Wednesday, March 18. At that point, we will transition to online learning or flexible learning accommodations through at least Friday, March 20. We will then assess where things stand with COVID-19. Additionally, all athletic and community events until Monday, March 23 are postponed. This includes any practices or rehearsals."

American Leadership Academy announced Friday it was extending its spring break through Friday, March 20. 

According to an email from Randy Ricedorff, the athletic director at ALA's Gilbert North campus, all athletic events and extracurricular activities have also been canceled until next Friday. 

Great Hearts Academy, which includes Arete Prep in Gilbert, Lincoln Prep in Chandler and Scottsdale Prep, has extended spring break through March 20. 

Friday evening, Gilbert Public Schools followed suit, announcing schools would be closed until further notice and all athletic practices and events would be canceled. 

After announcing it would remain open following spring break, the Scottsdale Unified School District changed course and closed schools through March 27. All athletic events have also been canceled until further notice, according to a letter from Superintendent John Kriekard sent to parents Friday night.  

Seton Catholic High School announced in a letter on its website all athletic events would be canceled on Monday, March 16. Classes have also been canceled. No decision has been made yet by school officials regarding when the school will open.

Mesa Public Schools, which had as of Friday planned to resume athletic events and classes on Monday, March 16, announced Saturday in a letter to parents that would no longer be the case. All athletic events for Mesa district teams have been canceled as schools will not be open until further notice.

Chandler Unified School District and Higley Unified School District, who are both on spring break through March 20, have not announced closures.

The 80th annual Nike Chandler Rotary Invitational was postponed due to the ongoing health crisis in the nation. Hundreds of teams, both from Arizona and outside the state, were scheduled to compete at the event. 

Dave Shapiro, the meet director, said in an email Friday he would seek alternative dates for the meet to take place. 

“Due to the fluidity of this world health crisis and changes that are happening on the hour, the Nike Chandler Rotary is going to postpone next week’s meet,” Shapiro wrote. “During the upcoming week we will be looking to gather more information and hope to look at the feasibility of other dates.”

Several other districts in Phoenix and the West Valley also started announcing closures, including Dysart Unified School District, which made its announcement on Thursday. 

The Arizona Interscholastic Association on Thursday morning announced it would discuss the ongoing coronavirus crisis at its board meeting on Monday. While the AIA is the governing body of high school athletics in Arizona, the cancelation of regular-season competition is left up to individual schools and districts.

However, the AIA announced it would respect any school or district’s decision to cancel games in relation to coronavirus concerns. Additionally, it would waive fees if events were canceled.

Have an interesting story? Contact Zach Alvira at (480)898-5630 or Follow him on Twitter @ZachAlvira


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