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After months of waiting and watching, high school sports fans finally have some answers.

The NHCSAA officially announced its proposed updated calendar Wednesday. The fall sports season has been postponed; the first sports practices that will begin are cross country and volleyball on Nov. 4, with those sports playing their first contests Nov. 16.

The biggest question on everyone’s mind was what would happen to the football season. It has indeed been moved to the spring, with the first practices starting Feb. 8, first games Feb. 26 and final regular season games April 9.

“Our decision-making process has been careful and calculated, as we work to ensure the health and safety of all student-athletes, coaches and administrators during this unprecedented time,” said NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker in an official statement. “There is still much work to be done in regard to playoff formats, COVID-19 related rules modifications for numerous sports, securing potential playoff facilities and providing the safest possible regular season opportunities for student athletes.”

“We are committed to that work and will continue to lead and govern interscholastic athletic programs across this state that support and enrich the educational experience provided by our member schools in such a manner to maintain the standards of excellence that the NCHSAA has become known for,” Tucker said.

The full updated calendar can be seen below, courtesy of High School OT:

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CALENDAR — The NCHSAA’s revised calendar for the 2020-21 school year.

The NCHSAA worked with its ad hoc committee, principals, athletic directors and school boards from around the state, its sports medicine advisory committee, health officials and the state government to arrive at this decision.

“We feel it is critically important to provide opportunities for North Carolina student athletes to participate, and compete, in education-based athletics,” said Doctor Josh Bloom of the NCHSAA’s sports medicine advisory committee. “While there are risks with resuming NCHSAA sanctioned athletics, it has also become very clear that there are significant negative consequences with not providing this option to student athletes. Accordingly, this is an exercise in balance – and we are committed to an appropriate balance of both safety AND participation.”

Haywood County Schools Superintendent Bill Nolte said the NCHSAA announcement is great news.

“COVID-19 has had a significant physical and emotional impact on all of us,” Nolte said. “This is another important step in helping our students, schools, and community return to more normal activities.”

Associate Superintendent Dr. Trevor Putnam said additional details will be shared as they develop.

“We appreciate the NCHSAA providing specific guidance for school sports,” Putnam said. “We are excited for our student athletes and will make every reasonable effort to support them, their coaches, schools and families.”

This is a developing story that will be updated with Tucker’s 3:30 p.m. press conference and reactions from local school officials.

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