Fri | Jul 30, 2021

School sports shutdown - ISSA considers cancelling all events for 2020-21 academic year

Published:Sunday | September 6, 2020 | 12:12 AMRobert Bailey - Sunday Gleaner Writer
Blaine Byam of Kingston College reacts after winning the Boys’ Class Two high jump, clearing 2 metres at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships held at the National Stadium on Saturday, March 30, 2019.
Blaine Byam of Kingston College reacts after winning the Boys’ Class Two high jump, clearing 2 metres at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships held at the National Stadium on Saturday, March 30, 2019.

With the continued spike in COVID-19 cases in Jamaica, Keith Wellington, president of the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), says that there is now the likelihood that the entire 2020-2021 high school sports season could be cancelled.

ISSA, the governing body for sports at the secondary school level, announced last month that it had cancelled all sports for the Christmas term, due to the recent increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases locally.

“I think that there is the possibility [that school sports can resume in January], but I am not sure how probable it is, but based on what is happening, we have no idea of when we will have full control of the pandemic,” Wellington told The Sunday Gleaner.

Wellington had stated previously that it was possible that the Manning and daCosta Cup football competitions, which would normally now be taking place, could be rescheduled for the Easter term.

“Obviously, if school is severely affected, then sport would have to take a back burner. We are hoping for the best still, but if things don’t go well enough, then we will have to look at that as an option, in terms of not having any sports this year (2020-2021),” he said.

Up to yesterday afternoon, Jamaica had recorded 2,964 overall cases and 30 COVID-19 related deaths.

Wellington, who is the principal of the St Elizabeth Technical High School, underscored that the cancellation of the 2020-2021 season would have a massive impact on the growth and development of Jamaica’s junior athletes. He also added that this move would also have a significant impact on the coffers of his organisation.

“Remember, we don’t have sporting academies in Jamaica and so most of the youth development in the different sports in Jamaica is fostered by the school system and ISSA-organised school sports, and so if there is no sports for over a year, then it means that our sporting development will be put back significantly,” Wellington said.

“It will definitely have an effect monetary-wise for ISSA, bearing in mind that this is our core responsibility. We organise school sports and if there is none, then it means that we would have been out of business for more than a year,” added Wellington.

The reopening of school campuses has been pushed back to October 5. Schools were closed in March and were expected to resume face-to-face classes tomorrow.

Wellington stated that his organisation will continue to monitor the coronavirus pandemic in Jamaica, and is urging everyone to ensure that they take all the necessary precautions to protect themselves from the deadly virus.

“We are not sure what is happening and I don’t think it is going away any time soon, and so what I think needs to happen is for us to learn to live with and cope as best as possible, to live a normal life,” Wellington stated.

ISSA’s major competitions are the Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships as well as the Manning and daCosta Cup football tournaments.

robert.bailey@gleanerjm.com