by Andrew Garda
Organized sports practices and competitions for football, cheerleading, group dance, rugby, boxing, judo, karate, taekwondo, and wrestling can resume outdoors.
On Monday, July 20, Gov. Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 168, allowing contact practices and competitions, deemed as high risk due to contact by the New Jersey Department of Health, to begin again.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, my administration has been committed to using all of the available science, data, and facts to guide New Jersey’s strategic reopening and resumption of activities,” said Murphy. “Today, our data gives us confidence, that in outdoor settings and with the proper public health and safety protocols in place, contact sports can resume while protecting players, coaches, and staff.”
That state has slowly allowed sports to be phased in. On July 8, practices and competitions resumed for medium-risk sports, such as baseball, softball, basketball, and soccer, in outdoor settings.
Montclair High School athletic director Patrick Scarpello sent out an email stating that Mounties will be able to take the field again for summer practices starting Aug. 17. Coaches were approved at the July 20 Board of Education meeting.
The Board of Education did not approve coaches for the winter or spring seasons.
In past years, the BoE would approve the coaches all at once in June, securing coaches for the following academic year.
Emails to BoE president Latifah Jannah inquiring as to the reason for the delay to approve winter and spring coaches were passed on to new district superintendent Dr. Jonathan Ponds.
Ponds had not responded by press time.
Montclair Kimberley Academy had previously stated that the beginning of August would be when the bulk of the Cougars would begin practicing, though the football team was back on Van Brunt Field on July 13.
Murphy’s order states that practices and competitions must be held in outdoor settings only and that all sports must follow a number of health and safety protocols, including screenings for athletes, coaches, and staff; limited equipment sharing; and strong requirements for disinfecting and sanitizing equipment.
The state also made clear that sports who are governed by either the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) or the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) must follow any rules set forth by those governing bodies. However, all organized sports are subject to the “Guidance for Sports Activities,” and must follow all applicable laws, regulations, and Executive Orders.
On July 10, New Jersey’s Sports Advisory Task Force announced that official fall sports practices will begin Sept. 14, with regular-season games beginning Oct. 1 for all sports except for football (Oct. 2) and girls tennis (Sept. 28).