Tempe Union suspends athletics

The Tempe Union High School District on Friday announced all athletic practices and events would be suspended in light of growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a letter sent to Tempe Union district parents and community members, all extracurricular activities and athletics would not go on as planned after the district announced it would close schools effective Monday, March 16. Athletic teams are also being told not to practice. 

“If we have information or reason to believe that we can resume with athletic practices, competition, and other extracurricular activities, we will communicate with students, coaches, and sponsors,” officials wrote in the letter.

Desert Vista head track and field coach David Klecka said shortly after the announcement that he was in the process of informing organizers of the Chandler Rotary Invitational, which is scheduled to take place on March 20-21, that his team was no longer able to compete.

“I’m just going to tell our kids to stay active and we will take things week-by-week,” Klecka said.

Tempe Union, which is currently on spring break, is the latest in a growing list of school closures across the state and country.

Dysart Unified School District announced Thursday it was closing schools and suspending all athletic events until March 27. However, district officials informed teams they were still able to practice. Other districts, quickly followed suit, with most announcing closures “until further notice.”

Winter sports championships across the country have been canceled in light of the coronavirus pandemic, including at the college level as conference tournaments were canceled shortly before the NCAA announced its championship tournament was also called off Thursday afternoon.

The pandemic also spread to professional sports, with every major league announcing it was either suspending or delaying its seasons to combat the spread of the virus.

The Arizona Interscholastic Association on Thursday morning announced it would discuss the ongoing coronavirus crisis at its board meeting on Monday. While the AIA is the governing body of high school athletics in Arizona, the cancelation of regular-season competition is left up to individual schools and districts.

However, the AIA announced it would respect any school or district’s decision to cancel games in relation to coronavirus concerns. Additionally, it would waive fees if events were canceled.

“Our students are always our biggest priority,” Tempe Union officials said. “It is never a positive thing to interrupt the learning process and the continuity of programming within our schools. But we understand the necessity at this time in responding to the community spread of COVID-19.”

Tempe Union schools affected by closures include Desert Vista, Mountain Pointe, Tempe, McClintock, Corona del Sol, Marcos de Niza and Compadre Academy. 

Other school districts have already announced closures, including Gilbert Public Schools, American Leadership Academy, Valley Christian and Great Hearts Academies. 

Have an interesting story? Contact Zach Alvira at (480)898-5630 or zalvira@timespublications.com. Follow him on Twitter @ZachAlvira


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