GAINESVILLE — Following an announcement by Gov. Ron DeSantis on March 17 that schools in Florida would be closed through April 15, the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) released a statement on March 18 confirming that there will also be no athletic events until at least April 15.
“In response to Gov. DeSantis’ closure of Florida schools through April 15, and following the Florida Department of Education Guidance Memorandum from March 17, 2020, the FHSAA has made the decision to postpone all scheduled FHSAA meetings, conferences and athletic events until further notice,” read the statement.
During that same March 17 announcement, Gov. DeSantis said parents can decide to keep their child in the same grade for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.
However, FHSAA has clarified that their bylaws would still be in effect. Specifically, bylaw 9.5.1, which states that a student is limited to eight consecutive semesters of eligibility beginning with the semester they began ninth grade for the first time. After eight consecutive semesters, the student is permanently ineligible. That means any student who repeats a grade would not have an extra year of eligibility.
This bylaw could be changed for next year, but that would have to be addressed by the FHSAA Representative Assembly.
The Okeechobee High School baseball and softball teams each had playoff aspirations this year. Those playoffs were scheduled to begin April 27. If school resumes on April 15, it’s likely the playoffs may be delayed. The OHS tennis teams were off to one of their best start in years as well. With only five games remaining in their season, it’s unclear if those games will be just delayed or canceled. FHSAA’s tennis playoffs were originally scheduled to start on April 13.
The postponement also means many seniors on those teams won’t get to experience their senior night.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, officials, fans and local communities are our top priority,” continued FHSAA’s statement. “We appreciate all member schools’ cooperation in following federal, state and local recommendations and mandates during this time.”