- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 14, 2020

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Fall seasons for public high school sports in Mississippi will be delayed by two weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Mississippi High School Activities Association announced its decision Tuesday, but also emphasized that new information could cause changes later.

Cross country, swimming and volleyball teams can start practicing Aug. 10 and competing Aug. 24.

Football practice can begin Aug. 17. Scrimmages between schools can begin Sept. 4 and games can begin Sept. 11. The organization said football playoff and championship dates in November and December are unchanged. Football games scheduled for the first two weeks of the season will not be made up.

The association’s executive director, Don Hinton, said the group remains in contact with medical experts, government officials and school administrators about the pandemic. He said “new information can and will alter plans and schedules at any time.”

“We know how important these extracurricular activities are to the students, parents, families, schools and communities of our state,” Hinton said in a statement. “We’re staying optimistic and doing everything we can to move forward for the upcoming school year.”

The state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, said during a news conference with the governor on Tuesday that football might be possible with some safety precautions for players, though he said it’s possible that teams will have players out with the virus at different times.

“Crowds are never safe right now, so that’s a real concern,” Dobbs said.

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