School Guidelines for Winter Sports/Activities
Note: This is not an exhaustive list and there might be additional steps in each community to help prevent the spread of virus. Even when taking all precautions, there will still be risk of transmitting illnesses. Everyone should stay vigilant about the health of members of their teams. These guidelines are to be integrated with the NFHS guidelines and the MHSAA Mississippi Sports Medicine guidelines. The situation with Covid-19 is rapidly changing. Please keep up with the latest from the CDC and the Mississippi Department of Health.
Prior to resuming practice or competition, coaches and administrators should consider meeting with students and parents to discuss the importance of reporting symptoms and exposure as early as possible, as well as review the isolation, quarantine, and return to play protocols before practice begins.
It is recommended that coaches and administrators complete a basic education course on COVID 19, such as the free NFHS COVID-19 for Coaches and Administrators Course (www.nfhslearn.com)
By implementing well understood concepts, many of which will be familiar as part of the return to workouts guidelines issued for Summer 2020, we aim to reintroduce sports and extra-curricular activities and competition to public school in the safest manner possible. Our overall goal is allowing students to enjoy the benefits of MHSAA sports/activities without allowing our teams to be a source of rapid spread of COVID 19 or danger to our communities. In the event that the member school’s district policy differs from that spelled out in this document, the stricter policy will be considered the one to use.
- Attendance policy & quarantine procedure will be determined before team competition begins and at the appropriate time.
- Post social distancing signs inside & outside of facility.
- No mask no entry.
- All game day personnel involved in the athletic event should be screened prior to working the event. Game day personnel include, but are not limited to, chain crew, officials, athletic trainers, timers, judges, scorers, ball boy/girl, etc.
- Hand sanitizing stations.
- On duty personnel wear mask/gloves.
- Any auxiliary persons (ticket takers, concession stand workers, security, media, and volunteers) should be screened prior to working an athletic event. Method of screening may be determined by host school.
- Any auxiliary participant who experiences any symptoms of COVID-19 should follow CDC and MDH guidelines before being allowed to work an event.
- Restroom attendant mask/gloves.
- Concession stand workers mask/gloves.
- Create a plan for line management at concession stands.
- Establish a plan for proper food preparation per FDA/CDC guidelines for food.
- Use single-serve condiment packets.
- Only clock operator & PA announcer in the press box.
- Have PA announcer broadcast social distance reminders.
- Restrict pedestrian flow in common areas.
- Create media guidelines and communicate these prior to and at each event.
Cleaning & Sanitizing
- Shared equipment, such as balls, and agility drill aids should be cleaned daily after use using CDC Approved cleaning solutions. A link with appropriate cleaning solutions will be placed on the MHSAA website.
- Shared locker room or indoor practice space and equipment must be cleaned daily after use.
- These areas must be cleaned daily if used by single teams, or between teams in the event they are used for a tournament or competition that involves several teams using the same facilities during a single day.
- Size of facility should be large enough to social distance.
- Time spent in dressing room for home/away team should not be excessive.
- Cheer teams spaced on sidelines/stands for social distancing (stunt with admin approval).
- Dance teams spaced on sidelines/stands for social distancing.
- Teams should limit the number of athletes on each side of the basket to allow for social distancing.
- Shared indoor practice space and equipment must be cleaned daily after use. This includes shared flooring such as tumbling mats (follow manufacturer cleaning directions) or team seating.
- Personal equipment water bottles, etc. should not be shared.
- No visiting before/after game or half-time between schools.
- These groups should always remain separate from game participants and remain away from the fans or non-group members.
Coach and Administrator Preparedness
- Coaches should regularly confirm the availability of, and access to hand-washing facilities, hand sanitizer and cleaning materials at all locations used by their students.
- The emergency action plans for each sport and individual venue should be updated to reflect changes necessary to meet COVID 19 requirements.
- Each school must provide its coaches and athletic medical staff access to adequate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), including masks, gloves and face shields.
- Teams should enter and leave the field of play or gym promptly without intermingling with spectators after competition.
- Pre and post-game interactions between competing teams and personnel as well as competing teams and fans should be limited as much as possible.
- Water bottles should be designated to each player whenever possible. In the event that this is not possible (due to team size, venue, etc…) then non-shared water sources need to be used such as disposable water cups.
- See the Guidance for Hydrating Athletes document posted to the MHSAA website
- It is an expectation member schools will comply with CDC, MDH, and local health agencies related to best practices for facilities.
- When possible, team bench areas should be arranged so access is for team personnel only. In addition, bench areas should accommodate proper physical distancing. When not feasible, other mitigation methods, such as facial coverings may be implemented.
- Revise team drop-off/pick-up procedures to allow for social distancing.
- Eliminate team walks through fan zones.
- Use gofan.co for digital ticket sales.
- Establish designated parking areas for team buses/equipment trucks.
- Discourage congregating in parking lots before/after event.
- Address social distancing with tailgating.
- Host schools should communicate prior to an event the local restrictions regarding mitigation of COVID-19 to the visiting team, officials, media, fans, etc.
- Communication between member schools should also include, but is not limited to, information regarding parking, concessions, locker rooms, ticketing, payment methods, entrance/exit gates, band, cheerleaders, etc.
- Post new guidelines on school website & social media throughout the season.
- Re-assess current policies for inclement weather during an event.
- Host schools should provide contest officials an area to enter and exit separate from fans when possible. Officials should be provided a dressing and meeting area that has been cleaned and disinfected prior to their arrival that provides for appropriate spacing between individuals.
- Officials’ table should be limited to essential personnel which includes home team scorer and timer with a recommended distance of 3 to 6 feet between individuals. Visiting team personnel (scorer, statisticians, etc.) are not deemed essential and may need to find an alternative location. The number allowed at the officials’ table is determined by the space available at the table. When physical distancing cannot be maintained, facial coverings are suggested.
- Officials should have their own labeled, beverage container, and these should be brought onto the field or court for their use during time outs or breaks.
- Local school system and school administration may determine the safest way to travel to and from contests in accordance with CDC, MDH, and their local health department.
- When physical distancing cannot be maintained, facial coverings are suggested.
- Assigned seating is suggested.
- MHSAA bylaws allow non-traditional students (virtual) to participate in athletics if they have met all other MHSAA eligibility requirements.
- However, local school system(s) may have more restrictive guidelines. If a school or school system prohibits virtual school students from athletic/activity participation, it is a local school decision.
- Before a sports season begins, member schools who choose to participate must agree to abide by the following: In the event any contest is not played during the regular season or playoffs, the game will be a no-contest. For playoff seeding purposes, the game will be considered a forfeited game (loss) by the school team who chooses not to participate. The opponent will receive a “win” for the cancelled game.
- If a school chooses not to participate in a contest, the local school principal must notify the MHSAA Executive Director and opposing school in writing.