By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — High school athletes will have to wait until at least the new year to compete because the California Interscholastic Federation will keep all practices and competition start dates on hold due to the continued surge of COVID-19 cases.

The CIF, which oversees high school sports in California, says it has been waiting on the state’s Department of Public Health to issue guidance on when schools can return to full practice and competition. On Tuesday, CIF said they did not expect to hear from public health officials until after Jan. 1, 2021.

“The CIF is confident this decision is a necessary and reasonable action for our member schools, student-athletes, and school communities in light of the current statewide crisis,” a statement said.

CIF officials say they will remove all regional and state championship events from the Season 1 sports calendar. The move will allow more student-athletes to participate in a longer season, rather than a truncated season with regional and state post-season play for a limited number of schools, the CIF said in their statement. Boys volleyball will also be moved to season 2 to avoid the loss of a second full season. An updated season 2 calendar including boys volleyball will be posted in January.

The decision was a disappointment for all involved in high school sports, like Sierra Canyon Head Football Coach Jon Ellinghouse. He said his players have been taking every precaution.

“I’ll be honest, I’m a person, and my personal and professional life that has taken this virus very seriously. And it scares the hell out of me,” Ellinghouse said. “Every day I try to find a way to keep my family safe, and to keep these kids safe. But I do feel like when we’re out there on the field, doing it right, and keeping distance, wearing masks, and taking temperature checks and doing questionnaires – they’re probably as safe as they probably can be when they’re out there.”

In the meantime, Ellinghouse says he has been urging his players to continue learning from this situation, even if it has nothing to do with sports.

“Life is hard. There’s uphill challenges, and it doesn’t always go exactly how you want,” he said. “I challenged my kids, probably 9, 10 months ago, to use this as an opportunity to make yourself better and to find a way to improve yourself, because that’s the only thing you can handle. This is something that’s very tough on these guys, but it probably won’t be the toughest thing they see in their life.”