LINCOLN — With the Omaha area under state-mandated school closings through April 30 because of the coronavirus outbreak, the Nebraska School Activities Association announced Wednesday that it has extended the suspension of all high school athletic and activity practices and competitions through May 1.
At least one high school, Norfolk in Class A, has closed for the remainder of the school year and all activities are canceled. Norfolk’s two parochial schools have said their activities are currently suspended but are not outright canceled for the school year.
“Our decision is similar to the NSAA,” Norfolk Catholic activities director Jeff Bellar said. “Our activities are suspended until further notice, but we have not put a specific date on it pending the situation that we're in right now.”
Norfolk Lutheran activities director Darin Suckstorf said that school's board and executive director make a weekly determination whether to resume in-person classes.
“What if we get the all-clear to go back to school in a couple of weeks? Then we can't even practice those sports for two weeks,” Suckstorf said. “I know it's wishful thinking.”
Other school districts in the state, including Lincoln, Grand Island and Kearney, are closed indefinitely.
“It’s getting bleaker for having competition and championships,” NSAA Executive Director Jay Bellar said. “We’re still trying if at all possible to have a shortened season.”
The key to going forward remains the 10-person limit for gatherings. Until that is lifted, Bellar said, “there’s nothing we can do.”
Asked whether state championships could be played into June, Bellar said he hasn’t talked about it yet with the NSAA board.
Other states, he said, are considering not having state championships if their schools reopen while allowing some games and some round-robin or regional tournaments to reduce travel and possible spread and/or exposure to the virus.
The NSAA’s postseason was to begin May 2 with soccer districts. State soccer has May 13-19 dates in Omaha, state baseball May 16-21 in Lincoln and Papilllion, state girls tennis May 21-22 in Omaha and Lincoln, state track and field May 22-23 at Burke Stadium and state boys golf May 27-28 at four sites across the state.
Bellar said the NSAA continues to follow federal and state directives.
“If things happen on the positive side faster than we expect, we can make adjustments that way,” he said. “If the closings go past May 1, there’s not a lot we can do at that point in time.”
Bellar said schools and students are expected to follow the out-of-school practice rules found in the NSAA’s constitution and bylaws and activity manuals during the suspension.