Planet Claire has pink air. All the trees are red. — B52s “Planet Claire”
Tell me it isn’t so.
But no, it is so. The long-awaited high school football season that was supposed to start this weekend is being postponed even longer. It’s a major blow to all student athletes, coaches and administrators.
The Department of Education is delaying the start of football season and all of fall sports until all participating athletes get COVID-19 vaccinations, according to a letter sent today to parents by interim superintendent Keith T. Hayashi.
The plan (and hope) is to get all sports going by Sept. 24. That would have a big effect on all of the sports, especially football. If the football season begins Sept. 24, seven full weeks will be lost.
The football season was supposed to begin this weekend with eight scheduled games. By Tuesday, that number of total games was down to five with two cancellations and one postponement due to COVID-19 related reasons (apparently, positive tests).
The Castle and Radford football teams prepared for the coin toss a few seasons ago. Both the Knights and Rams were supposed to play in games this weekend to start the 2021 season, but new DOE guidelines mean the season won’t begin until Sept. 24. (Image credit: TheRamPage.com).
The last time a football game was held in Hawaii was the state championship tripleheader in November 2019.
“All (Hawaii Department of Education) student-athletes, athletic staff and volunteers participating in school-sanctioned athletic activities will need to be fully vaccinated,” read Hayashi’s Aug. 4 letter to parents of athletes. “Full vaccination is defined as two weeks after a second dose in a two-dose series or two weeks after a a single-dose vaccine.
“In the meantime, due to the state’s high positivity rate, the (DOE) is delaying the start of the fall athletic season until Sept. 24 to allow for anyone unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated to get inoculated.”
The new guidelines do not apply to private school students. Conceivably, sports in the private school Interscholastic League of Honolulu could start on time. Many ILH fall sports are scheduled to begin in late August. In the spring season earlier this calendar year, the ILH ran many of its sports successfully.
The letter went on to read that the DOE’s postponement of sports was a tough one.
“This decision was not made lightly because we know the important role athletics play in a well-rounded education, but we cannot jeopardize the health and safety of our students and communities,” Hayashi wrote. “The alternative is canceling the season outright, which we do not want to have to do. We are implementing this layered plan that prioritizes vaccinations as the best way to protect against and reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.”
Hayashi noted that the DOE will exempt vaccination requirements for religious or medical reasons, with proper documentation.
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