The National Federation of High School Associations released its guidelines for states to consider as coaches and athletes prepare for re-opening for the fall sports seasons.
"We are greatly indebted to the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee for its work in formulating this guidance for reopening high school athletics and activities," Dr. Karissa Niehoff, NFHS executive director, said. "It is important to be clear that this is guidance for individual states to consider as they return to activities this fall. "
At the May 20 PIAA Board of Directors meeting via Zoom, executive director Robert Lombardi said the board hasn't had a chance to review and discuss the 16-page document, but said the PIAA is not ready to issue guidance for fall sports teams.
"That answer is to be determined based upon what the governor and the Department of Health and the Department of Education want to come forward with," Lombardi said. "Anything prior to us getting some real factual foundation and information is nothing more than conjecture."
Lombardi stressed the guidelines are a resource document, and they are going to use it as such.
"Guidelines scare me, because people interpret them as things you should do," Lombardi said.
Sports are rated as either higher risk, moderate risk and lower risk under the guidelines. Standards are based upon "potential exposure to respiratory droplets."
Higher risk sports include football, wrestling, boys lacrosse, competitive cheer and dance. These sports involve close, sustained contact between participants, lack of significant, protective barriers and high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants.
Moderate risk sports listed basketball, girls lacrosse, ice hockey, field hockey and swimming relays. All involve close, sustained contact, but with protective equipment that may "reduce the likelihood of respiratory particle transmission between participants or intermittent close contact or group sports or sports that use equipment that can't be cleaned between participants."
Volleyball, baseball, gymnastics, tennis and track and field events such as the pole vault, high jump and long jump could potentially be considered at the lower risk level with appropriate cleaning of equipment and use of masks.
The lower risk sports, which can be done with social distancing or individually, include individual running events, throwing events, which are the javelin, shot put, discus, individual swimming events, golf and weightlifting.
There are three phases that are detailed, extensive and emphasize pre-workout screenings, limitations on gatherings, facility cleanings, physical and athletic equipment and hydration.
Highlights from each phase:
All coaches and students should be screened for signs/symptoms of COVID-19 prior to a workout.
No gathering of more than 10 people (inside or outside). Locker rooms should not be utilized. Students should report to workouts in proper gear and return home to shower at end of the workout. Workouts should be conducted in "pods" with the same 5-10 students always working out together. There must be a minimum distance of 6 feet between each individual at all times.
There should be no shared athletic equipment between students.
All athletic equipment, should be cleaned after each use. Individual drills requiring the use of athletic equipment are permissible, but the equipment should be cleaned prior to use by the next individual.
Contact with other players is not allowed, and there should be no sharing of tackling dummies/donuts/sleds. A volleyball player should not use a single ball that others touch or hit in any manner. Softball and baseball players should not share gloves, bats, or throw a single ball that will be tossed among the team. Wrestlers may skill and drill without touching a teammate. Tennis players may do individual drills, wall volleys and serves. Runners should maintain the recommended 6 feet of distancing between individuals
All coaches and students should be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 prior to a workout. Screening includes a temperature check. Responses to screening questions for each person should be recorded so there is a record of everyone present in case a student develops COVID-19.
No gathering of more than 10 people at a time inside. Up to 50 individuals may gather outdoors. Workouts should be conducted in "pods" of students with the same 5-10 students always working out together.
Lower risk sports practices and competitions may resume.
Any person who has had a fever or symptoms in the previous 24 hours should not be allowed to take part in workouts and should contact his or her primary care provider or other appropriate healthcare professional.
Gathering sizes of up to 50 individuals, indoors or outdoors. When not directly participating in practices or contests, maintain a minimum distance of 3 to 6 feet between each individual.
Moderate risk sports practices and competitions may begin. Athletic equipment such as bats, batting helmets and catchers gear should be cleaned between each use. Other equipment should be worn by only one individual and not shared.