As the uncertainties swirl about what school attendance and athletics will look like in the coming fall, and even if they will be allowed to continue, some schools have decided to play for time and others have decided the risk is too great, and those decisions will have a big impact on local athletics.
Thursday Elkhart county schools announced that they will begin the school year as virtual learning only until Sept. 28. Along with that is the suspension of all athletics, extracurricular and co-curricular activities until further notice.
The announcement came as a surprise and left most school systems involved scrambling to get out announcements to their students and the public since for many Elkhart schools, classes were scheduled to begin next week.
The decision made by the Elkhart County Health Department was relayed to the county schools on Thursday afternoon.
Plymouth is a member of the Northern Lakes Athletic Conference and three of the Elkhart county schools involved - Northridge, NorthWood and Concord along with Jimtown have confirmed that their school corporations have suspended athletics. As of late Friday Goshen and Elkhart schools said they would continue for the time being.
South Bend Schools also will begin with e-learning until Oct. 5 and Penn until Sept. 14 but neither has suspended athletics. Mishawaka High School, the newest member of the NLC is also moving forward with athletics.
Wednesday Rochester schools announced that they too would be suspending athletic practice until Aug. 24 which would mean a return to play no sooner than Sept. 4 with the IHSAA's rule requiring at least 10 practices before participation in any athletic contest.
Published reports out of Elkhart county have stated that the AD's at the schools would continue to meet through the weekend hoping to submit a plan to the health department that would allow the continuation of play.
The IHSAA stated earlier in the summer that they would allow students to take all virtual classes and still be eligible for sports this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
At press time, administrators at other NLC schools were uncertain what kind of effect the decision would have on conference athletic schedules but pledged support for the schools and a commitment to work together to have athletics continue.