The decision to close on Wednesday, March 25, public schools in Oklahoma also ended high school sports for 2019-20 school year.
The Oklahoma State Board of Education unanimously voted for the mandatory closure of schools in favor of distance learning models for the remainder of the academic year in an attempt to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The closure means all OSSAA-sanction sports, including the high school state basketball tournaments and remainder of all spring sports, will not be played.
On March 16, the OSBE issued a mandatory halt of all classes in response to the nationwide pandemic which was to last until April 6.
“I don’t think we’re surprised,” said Owasso Athletic Director Zach Duffield. “Selfishly, we’re disappointed four our seniors. All the hard work they’ve put in, especially in the spring sports.”
News of school closures also meant the Rejoice Christian boys basketball team will not get the opportunity to defend their Class 2A state title. The OSSAA originally postponed the state tournaments just prior to the first round of games.
“I think most of us had come to grips with what was coming,” said Rejoice coach Zac Briscoe. “It’s just that final nail in the coffin to let us know it really isn’t happening. We’re super disappointed for sure. We understand there are factors at play her that we can’t control.”
The cancelation of the state basketball tournaments will mark the first time in a century Oklahoma will not crown state champions in boys or girls basketball. Spring sports state championships will be interrupted for the first time in several decades as well.
Rejoice Athletics Director Brent Marley, who coached several of Briscoe’s basketball players in football, was disappointed as well but understood the ruling.
“I hate it for those kids and coaches,” Marley said. “It’s those ‘what ifs’ and ‘what could have been.’… Those people have done a lot of research and are in a position of leadership for a reason. They are getting great intel and numbers on this virus.”
With the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rising by the day, Collinsville Athletics Director Brad Cantrell said ending the high school sports season was the right decision, albeit a tough one.
“It’s probably wise,” Cantrell said. “Safety first. I think it’s something they had to do. Whatever they wanted to do, I support it 100 %. When you see the news every night, it’s not surprising. It’s tough for these seniors to lose out on their senior season in all these spring sports.”