Basic COVID Precautions
Many of the previous recommendations for addressing COVID and other contagious diseases from the last year will be carried over into the 2021/2022 athletic year. In brief, these include but are not limited to:
- Signage listing current COVID guidance such as symptom to monitor, local masking policies, hand hygiene availability, requirements for social distancing and other guidelines should be visible in all practice, conditioning, and competition venues.
- Shared equipment, facilities, and spaces are expected to be cleaned after each use with CDC recommended cleaning agents.
- Access to hand hygiene, such as hand sanitizer or hand washing facilities, as well as appropriate cleaning agents should be available in all venues.
- Whenever possible, hydration sources should be provided to each individual. Individual water bottles, disposable cups, or separated water fountains that reduce or eliminate the potential for contamination between participants are highly recommended.
- Schools are expected to implement policies and procedures that take into account the need to:
- Screen participants for symptoms before participation daily.
- Ensure testing is conducted on exposed or symptomatic individuals before resumption of activity.
- Ensure close contact quarantine and contact tracing requirements are met per their school district policies.
- Ensure COVID positive patients receive appropriate medical screening before participation if infected before the 2021/2022 athletic season, or before resumption of activity if infected during the 2021/2022 athletic season.
Vaccination against COVID 19, which is currently available to those age 12 or older, is the most effective and longest lasting method of reducing rapid spread of COVID regardless of age. From a practical standpoint, vaccination is the method most likely to prevent large scale outbreaks among both participants in MHSAA activities and members of the community who are viewing MHSAA events. Member schools that achieve a high vaccination rate will ease the burden of contract tracing and close contact quarantine, as vaccinated individuals may be excluded from these expectations under the current clinical guidance from the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The decision to vaccinate is an individual one made in consideration for the participants overall health, risk of contracting COVID and serious consequences, and in the case of minors the wishes of their parents or guardians. Therefore, we recommend that every participant consider vaccination after consultation with their parents/guardians and healthcare providers.
Exemptions for Fully-Vaccinated Individuals
Individuals are defined as “fully-vaccinated” if they have completed a vaccine series more than 2 weeks prior to exposure and within the last 9 months prior to exposure. A vaccine series represents both Pfizer or Moderna vaccine injections or the single Johnson and Johnson injection.
In the event that you are uncertain of the vaccination status of an individual in question, or they are unable or unwilling to provide proof of vaccination, then they should be considered unvaccinated and subject to the same precautions as the unvaccinated.
Students, coaches, and administrators are excused from close contact quarantine and contact tracing after exposure if:
- They can be shown to be fully vaccinated, and are experiencing no symptoms after the current exposure
- They have been confirmed, via a positive COVID test, to have contracted COVID in the last 3 months and are experiencing no symptoms after the current exposure.
- Due to rare cases of vaccinated patients contracting COVID after completion of their vaccine or after previous infection, it is required that any participant that shows symptoms of COVID have a negative COVID test prior to resuming activity. In the instance of a fully vaccinated person or a person shown to be infected in the last 6 months that is showing upper respiratory symptoms, a negative COVID test will allow immediate resumption of participation. It is recommended that symptoms continue to be monitored and discretion be used in repeat testing if symptoms persist.
- It is required that fully-vaccinated individuals who are exposed to COVID be screened 48-72 hours after exposure regardless of symptoms, although they are allowed to participate in the meantime.
***To clarify, if a person develops any symptom associated with COVID, such as fever, body aches, loss of taste and smell, they are required to be tested before resuming activity REGARDLESS OF VACCINATION STATUS. If they are vaccinated, a negative test means they may resume activity without close contact quarantine. An unvaccinated individual who has been exposed would still be required to enter close contact quarantine regardless of test results.***
Close Contact Quarantine
Students, coaches and administrators that are exposed to COVID are prohibited from participation in MHSAA activities, including off season workouts and in season activities such as practice and games until they meet the following conditions:
- They may resume activity 10 days after exposure without testing as long as they never develop symptoms.
- They may resume activity after 7 days if they have a negative COVID test on day 5, 6 or 7 and have no symptoms.
- The minimum close contact quarantine for exposure is 7 days, regardless of access to testing and symptoms.
Students, coaches and administrators that contract COVID are prohibited from participation in MHSAA activities, including off season workouts and in-season activities such as practice and games until they meet the following conditions:
- They may resume activity after 10 days if they are asymptomatic for the last 48 hours of the 10 days of quarantine.
- Any MHSAA participant that displays symptoms more than 72 hours OR who requires hospitalization OR medical care beyond that required for diagnosis must be cleared by a medical doctor (MD or DO) before resuming activity.
- After testing positive students may re-enter school if they receive a positive antigen (rapid) test and then receive a negative molecular (PCR) test within 48 hours. Therefore, those students will be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities. (Per July 30, 2021 MSDH Guidelines).
Medical Screening Prior to Resuming Participation
It is recommended that all participants be asked if they have contracted COVID in the period from March 2020 to present prior to participation in MHSAA activities. Any MHSAA participant that displays symptoms more than 72 hours OR who requires hospitalization OR medical care beyond that required for diagnosis must be cleared by a medical doctor (MD or DO) before resuming activity.
A guidance document for healthcare providers regarding screening COVID positive patients prior to resuming activity will be posted to the MHSAA website for further direction.
Masking is recognized as an effective method for reducing the risk of spread of COVID in group settings especially indoors. Therefore, it is recommended that individuals be masked when gathered in indoor settings that do not allow adequate space for social distancing. Students, coaches, and participants should be allowed to wear masks in any setting if they so desire.
The CDC recommends testing all participants weekly, and at least 24 hours before events. MSDH has options for in school testing. It is therefore recommended that member schools seek to regularly test all participants where the resources are available.