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Pandemic high school sports guidelines been released

Raider sports, like all aspects of our lives now, will look a lot different in the new normal of COVID-19 pandemic life. Like seriously different. Like you can’t pass the basketball different. Like a kid playing tennis with the wall different. 

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, along with the National Federation of State High Schools Association and Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, has released guidelines for resuming high school sports. 

Those organizations “believe it is essential to the physical and mental well-being of high school students across the nation to return to physical activity and athletic competition. It is not likely that ALL students will be able to return to – and sustain – athletic activity at the same time in all schools and regions in Washington. There will also likely be variation in what sports and activities are allowed to be played and held.” 

The guidelines focus on what phase an area is in of Washington’s Safe Start Recovery Plan. 

Certain guidelines are common to all phases, such as everyone wearing cloth face coverings during practices; health screenings, including taking temperatures prior to each practice; “no pre-game and post-game handshakes/high-fives/fist bumps”; regularly disinfecting equipment such as balls or bats; and more. 

The guidelines get weirder as they start to focus on each phase. 

Okanogan County, where Lake Roosevelt Schools are located, is currently in Phase 2.

Phase 2 describes small “pods” of players, with a coach, who social distance from each other. The pods get bigger as a school moves into later phases. 

Actually practicing and playing many sports seems difficult if not impossible under Phase 2 guidelines. 

“A basketball player can shoot with a ball(s), but a team should not practice/pass a single ball among the team where multiple players touch the same ball,” the guidelines read. “A football player should not participate in team drills with a single ball that will be handed off or passed to other teammates. Contact with other players is not allowed, and there should be no sharing of [equipment such as] tackling dummies. … A volleyball player should not use a single ball that others touch or hit in any manner. Tennis players may do individual drills, wall volleys and serves.”

Sports are divided up into risk levels, with high risk sports including football and wrestling, moderate sports including volleyball, basketball, and baseball, and lower-risk sports, such as golf and cross country. 

During Phase 3 “lower risk sports practices and competitions may resume,” and “modified practices may begin for Moderate risk sports.”

Competitions should be limited to local areas, the guidelines say, and social distancing rules will apply. 

“Attendance should remain under 50% of capacity of the host venue,” the guidelines say. “Appropriate physical distancing will need to be maintained on sidelines and benches during practices. Use tape, cones, or paint as a guide for students and coaches.” 

During Phase 4, “moderate risk sports practices and competitions may begin,” and “if spectators are allowed, physical distancing measures must be followed.”

For attending events, the guidelines tell schools to group people into tiers such as players, coaches, and officials being Tier 1, media being Tier 2, and spectators being Tier 3.

“Only Tier 1 and 2 personnel will be allowed at events until restrictions on mass gatherings are lifted,” the guidelines state.

The guidelines document doesn’t say when high-risk sports can resume practice and play. 

The WIAA executive board is scheduled to meet on July 7 when further decisions could be made.


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