School district policies will determine if high school athletes see the field this fall

SCORES: Indiana High School Football Week 5
Posted at 2:00 PM, Jul 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-22 14:00:50-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The coronavirus pandemic is creating differing playing grounds for high school athletes in Indiana.

The Indiana State High School Athletic Association will allow students who are taking online classes to participate in extracurricular athletics if students are taught by their school's teachers.

However, school districts are free to create their own policies for students taking online classes and some school districts that plan to offer all classes virtually have suspended athletic activities.

"If a school decides to offer virtual, distance learning, e-learning or online courses that are taught by that school’s teachers, a student athlete can attend 100% of the day virtually and still participate in education-based athletics," new IHSAA commissioner Paul Neidig said in an email. "However, local control decisions permit a school to set a standard above the standard set by the IHSAA. For instance, some schools still require in building attendance for participation."

WRTV's Megan Sanctorum and Cameron Ridle have reported situations facing high school athletes and their families in Franklin Township and Washington Township.

In Franklin Township, only students going to school in person are allowed to participate in athletics, while the Washington Township school board voted to begin the school year with online-only classes and no athletics.

Other school systems have taken a different route. For example, Noblesville Schools announced Sunday that students will be allowed to participate in athletics and performing arts activities whether they take classes in-person or virtually.

As school districts determine their policies, the high school athletics season in Indiana is approaching.

The IHSAA's athletic calendar begins July 31 with practices for girls golf and Aug. 3 for football, boys tennis, cross county, soccer and volleyball. Opening night of high school football is Aug. 20.

According to the Indianapolis-based National Federation of State High School Associations, as of Wednesday, 16 state high school athletics associations around the country have moved back their athletic calendars.