Division of Public Health says game on

Ban on high school competition expected to be officially lifted
January 7, 2021

After some ambiguity as to whether winter sports competitions may begin Monday, Jan. 11, a public health official said it's game on.

Speaking during a Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association board of directors meeting Jan. 7, Jamie Mack, chief of health systems protection for the Delaware Division of Public Health, said a draft plan allowing competition play is expected to be finalized by Jan. 8.

“Right now, competition would be able to resume,” he said.

Earlier in the week, however, the message was unclear when Gov. John Carney would not say whether he would lift a ban on sports competition that he set in December to run until Jan. 11.

“I think we're still wrestling with that. No pun intended,” he said, chuckling at the reference to one of the top high school winter sports, along with basketball and swimming, in which teams are ready to compete.

Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health, said there have been some COVID-19 outbreaks among winter sports teams that have been practicing.

“It's just that indoor setting. The indoor setting for contact sports is risker,” she said. “We have some decisions to make around that, and we're not at the point yet of knowing when competition will be allowed for winter sports.”

Teams have been practicing throughout the competition ban. Matches were canceled in December, but basketball games throughout the Henlopen Conference are scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 12, with other sports set to compete during the week.

“We do anticipate competition allowed to continue,” Mack said.

However, he said, the number of spectators at events will be severely limited – possibly allowing one spectator per athlete in some situations.

No decision has been made on winter sports tournaments.

“We are not allowing tournaments right now,” Mack said. “Not saying we won't, but we're not opening up that level of competition at this point.”

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