The long-postponed high school football season is finally set to start in Massachusetts on Feb. 22, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association announced Friday.
The Fall II season — created as the association adjusted to the realities of the coronavirus pandemic — is slated to run from Feb. 22 to April 25, with no MIAA-sponsored postseason, according to the announcement. School districts may opt out if they choose to.
Along with football in the Fall II season are cheerleading, indoor track and unified basketball. School districts also had the option of moving the following sports from the Fall I season to Fall II: cross-country, dance, golf, field hockey, soccer, swim and dive and volleyball.
“We made adjustments in the fall and had a successful first season. We made additional modifications for the winter and our student athletes have been actively engaged since December. Now we are hopeful that with the guidance from the Governor’s office and of [the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs], along with the work of our various committees, that we will be able to have a safe and successful Fall II Season,” MIAA President Jeffrey Granatino said in a statement.
The group that oversees high school sports in Massachusetts has determined that higher-risk sports like football will not be played in the fall.
The change comes amid an apparent dip in coronavirus case levels from the height of the second surge in Massachusetts while the vaccine rollout ramps up. However, public health experts have some uncertainty on the course the pandemic will take as more virulent strains of the coronavirus spread.
Gov. Charlie Baker has encouraged schools to reopen with safety measures in place, citing research that shows schools that take precautions are not likely to be sources of major spread in the community.
The pandemic has played havoc with high school sports, impacting the second half of the 2019-20 season and the start of the 2020-21 season. In August, high school football, cheer and unified basketball were moved to practice only.