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AIA reverses decision & will allow high school sports despite COVID-19 numbers

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TUCSON (KVOA) - Over the last few days the Arizona Interscholastic Association had gotten an abundance of backlash from coaches, parents and athletes from a number of high schools in southern Arizona after the Friday decision to cancel the high school sports season because of COVID-19 concerns. Many believed the high school sports season should continue.

After a special AIA meeting on Tuesday, the decision was reversed with a 5-4, as board members decided to allow the season to live on.    

“It just feels great to have something to look forward to now," said Cienega High School senior cheerleader Katrina Quijada, who’s relieved to be able to suit up again, but, “I’m not too excited about the mask because it is hard as a cheerleader because we do use our voice and it kind of muffles it a lot, and it does make it hard to catch your breath and if it's falling down during the game, it's kind of hard to bring it up if you have poms in your hand. But, honestly, I'm fine with it as long as we get to get back there because that's what's most important for us and every other athlete out there. If that requires a mask, so be it."

The provisions also call for no general fans allowed at games. However, two parents or guardians per athlete can attend a competition.

Dustin Williams, Pima County School Superintendent, said, “It poses a big challenge for schools especially when we see these pandemic numbers the highest in the world here in Arizona, so we sympathize with all the parents and especially the student-athletes.”

Sahuarita High School girls soccer coach Jim Rawlings said, “I’m cautiously optimistic because now it's up to the different school districts as to what they're going to allow when they're going to allow it, and the protocols that we're going to have to go through.”

The decision to move forward with sports still has to be okayed by individual counties.

In the fall, Pima County recommended not to play football in early December because of the growing COVDI-19 pandemic, while other schools throughout the state didn't adhere to those guidelines.

Districts are expected to convene with the Pima County Health Department and the Pima County Board of Supervisors in the upcoming days to continue the discussion.

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Paul Cicala

Paul Cicala is a 2-time winner of the prestigious”Edward R. Murrow Award” for his reporting/anchoring in news & sports. Paul Cicala has also been nominated for multiple EMMY’s. Cicala has won the “Best Sportscaster” category in Tucson the last five years (voted on by readers of “Tucson Weekly”). Cicala is a native Tucsonan who specialized in border stories during his earlier career as a news reporter in this market, and now concentrates mainly on sports stories (with an occasional special report and/or feature story on life in Tucson & the Sonoran Desert).

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