CHAPEL HILL — The possibility of high school sports returning this spring took another hit Monday when Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order closing all public schools in the state through May 15 as part of measures to protect against the spread of coronavirus.

He had already ordered school closings for at least two weeks beginning March 16.

“I’m not ready to give up on this year of school, however, we know the effects of this pandemic will not subside any time soon,” Cooper said.

The N.C. High School Athletic Association responded, extending the suspension of high school sports through at least Monday, May 18 and saying that the possibility of athletics returning with school out looks bleak.

“The NCHSAA Board of Directors and staff will use the next few weeks to weigh our future decisions based on the new directions given by Governor Cooper, other government leaders, and organizations charged with public health and safety during this unprecedented time,” NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker said in a statement released Tuesday.

Tucker said such decisions will include the possible resumption of spring sports competition and the possibility of holding the state basketball championships.

The NCHSAA had originally stated that spring sports would resume by at least Monday, April 6 after it suspended the season March 14.

“While we remain hopeful that we will be able to resume competition, particularly for our senior student-athletes, we also recognize the need to protect the health and safety of our students, coaches and the communities we serve,” Tucker said.

The NCHSAA spring sports playoffs were slated to begin in April, with baseball and softball state championships taking place on the first weekend in June.

The state basketball championships were set to be played March 14 but were postponed before the announcement March 12 that spring sports would also be postponed until a tentative date of April 6.

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