After roughly five hours of discussion the state’s governing body of high school athletics voted to keep the July 27 start date for fall sports.

The Florida High School Athletic Association’s Board of Directors passed a motion during Monday night’s meeting — voting, 10-5, in favor of keeping the currently scheduled athletics calendar.

The motion, raised by Wewahitchka High athletic director Bobby Johns, also stated that schools will have to choose whether or not to participate in the state series by an undetermined date, and teams that don’t can add regular season games in substitution of playoffs.

The marathon meeting opened with a report from the FHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) offering its recommendations for the fall sports season.

They included: delaying the start of football and girls volleyball until further notice, waiting until two to three weeks after school begins to re-evaluate how to start athletics, implementing safety benchmarks of less than 5 percent positivity rate for COVID-19 cases over a 28-day period and requiring at least two weeks of practice before competition.

It also suggested daily COVID-19 questionnaires and thermometer checks for players, coaches and officials on a daily basis, not allowing fans or band members in the stands, universal masking on the sidelines, and protocols for quarantining infected individuals and those who had close contact with them.

The SMAC also recommended that schools continue to condition and practice in the capacity their district allows until the season begins.

The FHSAA Board, however, chose to enter the report as an information-only item and will discuss it in further detail later this week. Passing any of the SMAC’s recommendations would delay the season for at least some sports.

With different regions of Florida impacted to varying degrees, FHSAA Executive Director George Tomyn suggested sticking with the current start date of July 27 — giving schools the option of beginning their seasons any time after.

A motion of delaying the start of the season to Aug. 10 was raised by Gulliver Prep athletic director Mark Schusterman was eventually withdrawn after receiving little support.

Then Plant High athletic director Lauren Otero raised a motion to adopt protocol for a daily questionnaire similar to one that the SMAC report recommended, but it was denied, 12-4.

As it stands not much has changed since the FHSAA began meeting early this summer, but it might not remain that way for long with more meetings scheduled — including another in a few days.

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