PIAA Executive Director Dr. Robert Lombardi remained optimistic the fall sports season will be held on time amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Following the announcement of guidelines by Gov. Tom Wolf last week, schools started establishing protocols to get started with voluntary preseason workouts.

Normally, teams can’t open training before July 1. However, as long as school boards approve their own protocols, there is no set date by which the teams must wait. Lombardi was encouraged by the headway some schools made already, and pointed to outlines established at Hollidaysburg High School by athletic director Homer Delattre, who doubles as the school’s head football coach, and by Northwestern Lehigh athletic director Jason Zimmerman.

Official practices cannot start until Aug. 17. Mandatory five-day heat acclimatization starts Aug. 10.

“People are sharing their return to play, so to speak, many schools have been sharing their plans,” Lombardi said. “A lot of people are using the NFHS guidelines. We did have a couple of questions as to why the Department of Health or us (PIAA) didn’t put out guidelines. Our Sports Medicine, we relied on them, and they didn’t want one-size fits all. I think it benefits our schools to do their own personal ones.

“I believe the Department of Health is coming up with something so expansive that people can pick and choose almost off a menu to tailor their program that way.”

Putting together a strong plan is tantamount to getting the fall sports season started, Lombardi emphasized.

“If schools will put their plans together, develop the plan and work the plan and show that they don’t have any setbacks, it goes a long way in building the foundation so we can start in August,” Lombardi said. “It’s much better than sitting here idly by saying ‘What if?’ I think this is a great foundation builder.”