^pWhile the Badger Conference will not hold conference competitions or crown league champions in 2020 fall sports, Portage has no plans to sit out the fall season.
^pIn a statement sent to the Daily Register, new Portage athletic director Ed Carlson said the school is planning to pursue non-conference competitions with surrounding schools amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
^p“We continue to move forward making plans to have a fall season under the new starting dates and guidelines of the WIAA,” Carlson wrote. “Specific details other than season start dates have not been released by the WIAA as of yet. They are putting various ideas through a vetting process, and we expect to learn more about those decisions soon. Obviously those decisions will have an impact on our plan.”
^pAfter being sent to parents and coaches at some large schools and forwarded to the Wisconsin State Journal on Thursday, the Badger Conference officially released a statement Friday announcing its plans to scrap all conference events. The fact the 16-team league is spread across seven separate counties, each with separate safety guidelines, created an uneven plane to work on.
^p“With 16 schools involved over so many different counties, and many different scenarios in regards to their educational model and health guidelines, as a conference this was really the only decision that made sense,” Carlson wrote.
^pThe league’s decision does however allow schools to schedule non-conference competitions in the fall “so long as they follow the guidance of the WIAA and local public health officials.”
Carlson made every indication that under Portage School District’s “Return to Learn” plan, he will “work in conjunction with our school nurse, board of education, local health departments, Divine Savior Athletic Training, and the WIAA to implement a plan for co-curricular activities that mitigates the risks associated with COVID-19 as much as possible.”
^p“We certainly understand that people are going to have concerns, but we can assure the community that we will work to provide the safest possible environment for co-curricular activities,” he added. “Ultimately, the decision to participate in co-curricular activities will be a family decision.”
^pSchedules for all of Portage’s fall sports will certainly look different. Limited to strictly non-conference competition, Carlson said he is focusing on working with fellow schools in Columbia County, as well as neighboring Sauk and Dodge Counties.
^pFellow Badger North foes Baraboo, Reedsburg and Sauk Prairie have also stated they would like to compete in co-curricular activities this fall.
^p“Right now, we are hopeful that we can still participate and have a fall season with schools in our conference and surrounding area that decide they too can safely play,” Sauk Prairie athletic director Josh Boyer wrote in a letter to Capital Newspapers. “If the options of the fall do not come to fruition, we will work on exploring and planning what a spring opportunity would look like for fall sports. Again, we are doing everything we can to hopefully still play fall sports this fall.”
^pAs different as the fall sports season will be, should it materialize, Carlson knows any and all efforts are for a good cause.
^p“Our school district team is committed to find solutions that allow us to provide the co-curricular activities that are important to so many of our students,” he wrote.
Follow Sean Davis on Twitter @SDavis_PDR or contact him at 608-745-3512.
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