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COVID-19 RETURN TO PLAY UPDATES
As new information emerges, we will post the updates to the guidelines below:
NOTE: The guidelines provided below are subject to change
Update from the OHSAA:
(As of July 22, 2020)
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has presented the OHSAA with a myriad of challenges. The Executive Director’s Office, with support from its Board of Directors and feedback from the Ohio Joint Advisory Committee on Sports Medicine, the National Federation of State High School Associations and the Ohio Department of Health along with support from the Ohio Lt. Governor’s Office, offer a Return to Play document as recommendations on how our member schools can consider approaching the many components of “opening up” sports with the objective of commencing the fall sports seasons on August 1, 2020. The OHSAA fully intends to support its member schools and the student-athletes who desire to compete in interscholastic athletics and will continue to assess all areas as more information becomes available. We encourage you to especially pay attention to the early pages of the document closely since they indicate that many of the recommendations can ONLY be utilized if mandates from the Ohio Department of Health Director’s Order are modified.
The OHSAA understands that the physical and mental benefits of participation in education-based interscholastic athletics are numerous and are heightened even more during this pandemic. Students who participate learn life lessons in an environment that cannot be duplicated. Academic achievement, the development of leadership and social skills as well as the mental health benefits are known to be greatly enhanced in students who participate in our programs compared to those who do not. There is no doubt that the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has already resulted in thousands of our students missing out on these life-shaping educational experiences over the past several months, and we certainly hope we can return to some type of normalcy as it relates to interscholastic athletics soon. With that being said, in order for interscholastic athletics to occur, we all need to follow the protocols that have been put in place.
The recommendations within the Return to Play document for the resumption of varsity, non-varsity and 7th-8th grade interscholastic athletic seasons and participation opportunities have been made with the health, safety and well-being of all student-athletes in mind.
The risk of coronavirus transmission will still be present to some degree as interscholastic athletics activities begin in August and will continue until there is a widely available vaccine or therapeutic care, possibly through the 2020-21 school year. While the science about COVID-19 is evolving, it will be important to remain vigilant and nimble to respond to new developments. Students and their families, along with school personnel, must recognize these risks and implement best practices to reasonably mitigate these risks. Participation in school activities is voluntary and every individual will need to evaluate the risk versus the benefits of athletics participation. Those immunocompromised students and staff, or those who live with family members with elevated health concerns, should evaluate associated risks of participation and may choose not to participate. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, and also may be produced when yelling, cheering, singing and spitting. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Risk mitigation strategies should be aimed at reducing the likelihood of a person being exposed to respiratory droplets coming from another person. Every school is different, and every athletics activity is different. Certain mitigation strategies may be feasible in one school or for one activity, but not another.
Schools should attempt to significantly mitigate exposures by:
- Maintaining physical distancing while not on the field or court of play;
- Requiring face coverings while not on the field or court of play;
- Reducing or greatly eliminating unnecessary travel;
- Reducing or eliminating sharing of common equipment, and
- Reducing or eliminating contact frequency with student-athletes from schools and non-interscholastic programs outside of each school’s league/conference or normal competition sphere.
As another component to the Return to Play Recommendations document, we are including an educational tool for your student-athletes, an acknowledgment and pledge form that you may strongly consider utilizing.
As a supplement to the Return to Play document, we are also providing sport-specific recommendations and/or considerations that our sport management team has developed in conjunction with the National Federation of State High School Associations or a similar governing body. Links to these documents will also be sent to your head coaches. Note that a rule modification is a modification to a playing rule from the governing body of the sport and is a requirement to adhere to and follow. A recommendation is a consideration to the sport and allows for optional guidelines. Recommendations are not required but are permitted.
Sport Specific Guidelines:
- Here is the link to the OHSAA Return to Play Recommendations document: https://bit.ly/RTPRecs
- Here is the link to the Student-Athlete Acknowledgement/Pledge Form: https://bit.ly/StdntPledge
- Here is the link to Football specific recommendations and/or considerations: https://bit.ly/FBRecs
- Here is the link to Cross Country specific recommendations and/or considerations: https://bit.ly/CovidXCRecs
- Here is the link to Soccer specific recommendations and/or considerations: https://bit.ly/SORecs
- Here is the link to Volleyball specific recommendations and/or considerations: https://bit.ly/CovidVBRecs
Update from the OHSAA:
(As of July 24, 2020)
Fall Sports Clarity
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of us to be prepared for change, and that change may occur weekly, daily or by the hour. That being said, the OHSAA Office continues in moving forward with the normal start of the fall sports seasons, meaning practices will begin on August 1 and we will conduct our usual series of tournaments in 10 fall sports. For clarity purposes, here are some additional notes:
Current Fall Non-Contact Sports
NOTE: School vs. school scrimmages, previews, contests, tournaments permitted but no earlier than OHSAA start dates
- Golf – 1 scrimmage permitted any time during season; first contest Aug. 5
- Girls Tennis – 1 scrimmage permitted after practice begins and prior to first match; first contest Aug. 7
- Volleyball – 5 scrimmages and 1 preview permitted after practice begins; first contest Aug. 21
Current Fall Contact Sports
NOTE: School vs. school scrimmages, previews, contests, tournaments permitted but no earlier than OHSAA
start dates AND WITH CURRENT OHIO HEALTH DIRECTOR’S ORDER THAT COVID-19 TESTING PROTOCOLS OCCUR
For more details, here is a link to the current Director’s Order:
- Cross Country – no scrimmages permitted; first contest Aug. 24 (exception: OHSAA Invitational Aug. 15)
- Field Hockey – 5 scrimmages permitted after practice begins; first contest Aug. 21
- Football – 2 scrimmages or 1 scrimmage and 1 preview and one Jamboree permitted after a minimum of 7 days of practice and prior to first game; first contest Aug. 24
- Soccer – 4 scrimmages plus 1 preview permitted after practice begins; first contest Aug. 21
Preseason Meetings with Student-Athletes and Parents
This is a reminder that Bylaw 3-1-4 remains in place and that a mandatory preseason fall sports meeting must be held with student-athletes and parents no later than two weeks after the beginning of each sports season. Due to COVID-19, we are encouraging all such meetings to be conducted online. If social distancing can be maintained, or multiple smaller groups used (one for each fall team), in-person meetings can be utilized but are not necessarily encouraged. Please read Bylaw 3-1-4 for more details. Additional reminders regarding the meetings will also be forthcoming from our Membership Services team. The OHSAA Office has again developed sample meeting agendas and a preseason meeting PowerPoint presentation that are welcome (but not required) to be used for your meetings. See the School Resources area of the OHSAA website (www.ohsaa.org) for more information.
Preparticipation Physical Examinations
Bylaw 3-5-1 remains in place as it relates to the requirement that a form signed by a medical examiner, student-athletes and their parents – certifying the student-athlete has been cleared for athletic participation by a medical examiner – must be on file for all student-athletes before any candidate for a team may participate in a practice. The forms must be certified by the medical examiner no less than once every 13 months. In addition, this bylaw requires that all consent forms – there are four of these – be signed by the student and parents. Please review Bylaw 3-5-1 for more details.
Adjustment to OHSAA Scholarship Bylaw
As a reminder, the OHSAA Office has temporarily suspended strict compliance with Bylaw 4-4-1 as it relates to high school students required to have received passing grades in a minimum of five one-credit courses or the equivalent during the immediately preceding grading period and Bylaw 4-4-5 as it relates to 7th-8th grade students required to have received passing grades in a minimum of five of those subjects in which the student received grades during the immediately preceding grading period. This means that all students entering grades 7-12 will be eligible for 2020 fall sports insofar as academic eligibility is concerned.
As a reminder, students enrolled in high school for the first grading period, whether the learning is virtual, in person or blended, are required to take and pass five one-credit courses or the equivalent to maintain eligibility during the second grading period. The OHSAA Office will be no doubt be reviewing this requirement to determine if potentially suspending strict compliance with this Bylaw is appropriate.
Adjustment to the OHSAA Transfer Bylaws
As of today, there are no adjustments to the transfer bylaws found in Bylaw 4-7 with the exception of the waiving of the consequence for any 2020 spring sport athlete who may have participated in a scrimmage in Boys and Girls Lacrosse, Baseball or Softball. Those students, if they should transfer, shall have full eligibility insofar as transfer is concerned for the spring sports season only in 2021.
Update from the OHSAA:
(As of July 28, 2020)
1.) We are on track for the low/non-contact sports of golf, girls tennis and volleyball to begin practices on August 1, with school vs. school scrimmages and contests to follow per their normal OHSAA permissible dates and regulations.
2.) We are on track for the contact sports of football, soccer, field hockey and cross country to begin practices on August 1. We are waiting for more guidance from the Governor’s Office and Department of Health on when school vs. school competition can begin and are hopeful of that permission being granted for our normal contest dates later in August. To that end, school vs. school scrimmages are SUSPENDED. We do not anticipate that suspension changing soon and there remains the possibility that no scrimmages will be permitted in the contact sports of football, soccer and field hockey. We will certainly keep you updated if that changes.
Note: We continue to have conversations regarding the status of field hockey and/or cross country being placed
into the low/non-contact category. Again, we will certainly keep you updated if that changes for either or both sports.
3.) Our discussions with the Governor’s Office are clear . . . If we want our student-athletes to learn the lifelong lessons and receive the social, emotional and physical benefits that the privilege of participating in education-based interscholastic athletics programs provide, we all have to be accountable for following all mandates and requirements. By not following the mandates and requirements, we are putting our student-athletes at risk of not only contracting and/or spreading COVID-19 but also at risk of losing the season for themselves, their families, their teammates, their schools and their communities. Mandates and requirements put into place must be followed in order for the Governor’s Office to continue to allow us to participate.
4.) To that end, the OHSAA is working to finalize contest day mandates and requirements that are to be strictly enforced, and our administrators, coaches and student-athletes will be held accountable for non-compliance. So as to not cause alarm, these mandates and requirements will be to elevate many of the recommendations that were provided in the OHSAA Return to Play Recommendations document to the level of mandates and requirements and should not require wholesale modifications to your game-day protocol.