While the WIAA last week said they were moving ahead with plans for Wisconsin schools to engage in a simulated spring sports season beginning July 1, that will not be the case for Three Lakes, Phelps and Northland Pines school districts.

Each has now officially canceled most plans for any type of organized team activities through July, citing the safety of students, focus on education and liability as reasons for their decision.

“One of the most important things that led to our decision was the safety of our school district and student-athletes,” said Three Lakes Athletic Director Charlie Volk. “It would have been hard right now to put on any sporting event and have less than 50 people, and that’s where we are with the guidelines.”

Officials at Northland Pines canceled their spring sports season completely weeks ago, but Three Lakes-Phelps was holding out hope of not just hosting events in boys and girls track, baseball and possibly softball and soccer, but also traveling to communities such as Rhinelander and the Minocqua area for events.

“Everything was pretty much in line, but the bottom line was we have to follow what our insurance will cover,” said Volk. “But if we go against guidelines, I don’t think there is an insurance company that will cover us should something happen.”

Insurance wasn’t the only reason Volk cited as reasoning for the cancellation. Safety and responsibility to the district, athletes, coaches and community also played a role in deciding to forgo the spring sports season completely.

Numerous independent groups such as youth baseball or Pop Warner football organizations may find it easier to go against health department recommendations, but Volk said that the logistics of the Three Lakes School District hosting an event and trying to stay within health department guidelines was the determining factor.

“If you start exceeding guidelines, you’re a pretty easy target,” said Volk. “Schools are an institution of education. And granted, sports are a very integral part of that, it’s not the driving force behind why we are here.”

Volk did not address summer contact days for fall, winter and spring sports coaches, though Pines is planning on meeting this week with coaches to discuss their approach to July contact days for all sports.

Under their guidelines the WIAA allows for five out-of-season contact days for coaches which are typically used for camps throughout the summer.

Pines will allow its coaches to host contact days, but not anything above and beyond those five days.

According to Pines Athletic Director Brian Margel­ofsky, they are continually adjusting where they are in terms of safety for athletes, coaches and programs.

“We work with the health department locally to see where we are in reference to guidelines for COVID-19, then I work individually with my coaches to let them know, in reference to the WIAA guidelines, what they can and can’t do,” said Margelofsky. “We’re in a situation where we, if we haven’t had the cases, and we can practice social distancing, we are able to do a bit more.”

Both Three Lakes and Pines will look at the fall sports season following  decisions from both school boards regarding how students will be brought back to school in September.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released opening guidelines for districts Monday which both Three Lakes and Pines will discuss to see what options are best for the districts before addressing athletics.

In the meantime, Volk said that he’s hopeful either area clubs, individual groups or coaches will be able to pick up the ball and run with it to get athletes involved in something yet this summer.

“As a school, if we can support them in any way possible legally, we will,” said Volk. “It’s not going to be easy. Unfortunately there are a lot of kids, parents and coaches that put a lot into this, and I?am hoping coaches will provide some opportunities.”

Three Lakes School District has decided to keep all district facilities closed to organized group activities through Aug. 1, however the track and field facility will be available for individual use starting July 1.

Both Eagle River and Three Lakes youth baseball groups announced recently they are going to move forward with some sort of season this July. Youth football has yet to make a decision, though plans in both communities are moving forward as if they will provide a season in August.