By Mike Deak
GOSHEN – In a shocking, yet typical manner, another major decision regarding education-based status has again sent ripples through the area.
The Elkhart County Health Department made the decision Thursday afternoon to move school virtually through Sept. 28. In the decision also came the notation that “all athletics, extracurricular and co-curricular activities have been suspended for the time being.”
The shakeup would immediately cease all sports in Elkhart County through the end of next month, in theory. As of 9 p.m. Thursday evening, three schools – Jimtown, Northridge and Concord – had all confirmed they are halting activities, but did not specifically eliminate sports being played in a totality.
A release by the Concord School Corporation mapped out the latest decision by the ECHD, as did similar releases from the Middlebury and Baugo corporations. Goshen High School athletic director, Larry Kissinger, however, did not immediately rule out athletics at his school. NorthWood issued an announcement of suspension at roughly 9:30 p.m. Thursday.
The ripple effect will certainly handcuff athletic calendars in surrounding communities. The Northern Lakes Conference, comprised of four schools in Elkhart County – Goshen, Concord, Northridge and NorthWood – as well as the Northern Indiana Conference – Elkhart and Jimtown – and the Northeast Corner Conference – Fairfield – along with Bethany Christian, Elkhart Christian and Clinton Christian, all would leave voids in opponent calendars. Wawasee and Warsaw, both in the NLC, would have to adjust its athletic calendars.
The IHSAA released its guidelines to a 2020 fall sports return just Thursday morning. In an ironic move last week, the IHSAA had also announced on Wednesday, July 29, that it was planning for a full 2020 sports return. Within hours, Marion County announced it would not participate, then walked back its statement a couple hours later. It’s to be seen if backlash from Elkhart’s decision will result in adjustments. Congruently, a text to The Goshen News later Thursday evening noted the ECHD had not officially made an announcement for sports and any purported cancellation mandates.