Monday may not be the day the Omaha Public Schools announce plans for fall sports for their seven high schools, as has been widely anticipated in the Omaha athletic community.
That uncertainty adds to the challenge the Nebraska School Activities Association faces in trying to begin fall sports practices on time Aug. 10.
NSAA Executive Director Jay Bellar said Tuesday it may be that Class A’s season looks different from that of the other six classes.
As of Tuesday, the NSAA is proceeding with its standard timetables for fall sports. Aug. 20 is the first competition date for some sports, with football and volleyball able to start on Aug. 27.
“We still haven’t changed from our previous statement, but with things changing like they are we’re going to keep in contact with our schools and see what they prefer to do,’’ Bellar said.
With OPS and its seven high schools, it is not clear the decision on fall sports will be subject to a school board vote. Next week’s OPS board meeting earlier had been moved back a day to Tuesday, Aug. 4, yet an OPS spokesman said the decision might still come on Monday.
“We will be sure to pass along updates on fall athletics and activities when we reach that determination. It may be Monday, but we do not have a set date and time,’’ OPS spokesman Jeremy Maskel said in response to questions emailed to OPS.
“We understand this is important information for students and families as we look to the coming school year. With a focus on health and safety, we will make a determination based on the best information and guidance available. As conditions continue to evolve, we are monitoring (those) closely.”
Bellar said the NSAA on Monday sent a survey to schools.
“We asked real simple questions. ‘Are you planning on starting on time for football and volleyball?’ The answers are coming back overwhelmingly, ‘Yes, we are,’ except for the bigger schools,’’ he said. “Does that behoove us to take a look at doing something different (for Class A)? We don’t know that one way or the other, but we’re going to try to keep as open-minded as we can.”
As of Monday, 24 counties in Nebraska had reported no new COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days. The nine counties in the Loup Basin Public Health Department are in Phase 4 of the state’s directed health measures, and the nine counties in the North Central District Health Department get there Saturday. Phase 4 allows outdoor venues to operate at full capacity and indoor venues such as arenas and event centers to operate at 75% of capacity.
The countries with the most positive tests in the past 14 days, through Monday, have been Douglas (1,588), Lancaster (644) and Sarpy (409). The three most populous counties in the state have all but six of the 31 Class A schools in football and volleyball.
Bellar said football-related decisions could depend on how many Class A schools field teams.
“Do we have to start three weeks late for football (in Class A), and then it goes to a bigger conversation?’’ he said. “Are we just talking football or are we talking everything? Because at this point in time what I’m hearing from most people is it’s football they’re discussing and not the other sports or activities.”
He said among the options for football, if changes are necessary, are playing only district games; making the first two weeks of games optional; taking all teams to the playoffs; or dropping the playoffs and using that four-week period to help teams complete their schedules.
Don’t expect the NSAA to relax its transfer rules.
“We haven’t been allowing transfer rules to be violated at this point in time because we know if that starts, I don’t know how you stop that,’’ Bellar said. “I think we have to protect our schools in that realm. I understand how the (Omaha) metro is. It has so much population that if (schools) don’t have something or, say, they start late, some kids might want to move somewhere else, but at this point in time, unless things have changed a lot, I don’t think we’re going to allow that.”
The same is true for transfers from out of state without the parents moving their residence. Bellar said he’s taken calls from Californians who have relatives in Nebraska and want to send their children to live with them.
“I think we’re going to get more inquiries as we go along,’’ he said.