SALT LAKE CITY — Last Tuesday, Utahns were told that schools will remain with distance learning for the rest of the school year. That same day, the Utah High School Activities Association announced spring sports and activities would be canceled for the rest of the season.
However, Governor Gary Herbert and UHSAA members met Monday afternoon.
According to a statement from Governor Herbert's office:
“The Governor visited with representatives of the UHSAA this afternoon in a productive meeting. All acknowledge the hardship to our high school students whose spring activities have been cut short. All involved also recognize the unprecedented public health and safety issues associated with any resumption of spring high school activities during the COVID-19 crisis. The Governor is grateful to the UHSAA for the serious and deliberate way they are approaching these decisions.”
"Representatives of the UHSAA had a productive conversation with the Governor and staff regarding the public health challenges and the safety risks associated with any resumption of spring high school activities during the COVID-19 crisis.” - @UHSAAinfo
— 𝐁𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐧 𝐒𝐜𝐡𝐧𝐞𝐞 (@brian_schnee) April 21, 2020
Despite being part of more than 30 states that have decided to cancel spring sports, the UHSAA has been put in a tough spot.
In less than a week, more than 5,000 signatures have been gathered for an online petition asking the UHSAA to reconsider and retract it's decision to cancel high school spring sports and activities.
“We just felt that instead of immediately just saying we’re done, why not delay and see how things play out," said Dan Roden who started the petition. “We’re not asking you to open it up tomorrow but just to shut it down with no foresight as to what things might look like in the next two weeks or three weeks, I think it was a little bit premature.”
Following the announcement from Governor Gary Herbert and State Superintendent Syd Dickson to continue distance learning for the remainder of the school year, the UHSAA decided to cancel.
“The number one focus of the Utah High School Activities Association is to provide a safe environment for education-based activities and safety has always been paramount to everything we’ve done," said UHSAA Assistant Director Jon Oglesby to Fox13. “Our association is very saddened and heartbroken for the loss of opportunities for all the students that were planning on participating this spring and especially our senior class.”
Countless emails and phone calls have been flooding schools and associations from parents across the state in efforts to voice their concern over the cancellation announcement.
“If we can go to the Home Depot every day and see literally hundreds of people mulling around in Home Depot I think we should be able to go to a baseball field with maybe 30 people that are already there and be able to enjoy a high school event," said Roden. They plan to present the petition to the UHSAA in addition to the emails and communication that has already been done.
In regards to the petition, the UHSAA responded to FOX 13 via a statement:
"The survey would have to be considered by our board, who would have to weigh that alongside the Governor and Superintendent Dickson's decision on school campus closures."
This is only the third time that Championships have been canceled in Utah. The others were during World War II and during the Spanish Flu Pandemic
In the video below, some student-athletes and coaches weigh in on the sudden cancellation: