NFHS issues guidelines on return for high school sports activities

Staff Writer

The Northeast Tri County area, along with many other parts of the state are on track to reach Phase 4 of Gov. Jay Inslee's reopening plan before the start of fall sports this August, assuming each phase lasts around the minimum requirement of three weeks.

If areas in the state reach Phase 4, fall sports will be able to resume in normalcy. In the case a county does not reach Phase 4, the National Federation of State High School Associations released a 16-page set of recommendations on how to reopen athletics for state associations across the county, including the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.

There were recommendations for Phases 1, 2 and 3 in the document. Stevens, Ferry, Pend Oreille and Spokane Counties have all reached Phase 2 of the reopening plan. Phase 2 would consist of pre-workout and contest screenings of all coaches and students, including a temperature check, recorded screening questions, reported positive symptoms and leaving out vulnerable individuals from participation.

Phase 2 would also limit gatherings to no more than 10 people indoors and up to 50 outdoors. A minimum of 6-feet would be needed between individuals at all times and workouts would be conducted in pods of the same 5-10 students always together. Lower-risk sports (running, throwing, swimming, golf, weightlifting, sideline cheerleading and cross country) could resume full practices and competitions. Moderate-risk sports (basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, soccer, tennis and 7-v-7 football) would be allowed to have modified practices. Players also would not be allowed to share any equipment or hydration methods.

Phase 3 would eliminate the need for universal screenings, instead removing anyone having cold or fever symptoms within the previous 24 hours from participation, keeping a record of all individuals present and allowing vulnerable individuals to participate. Gatherings of up to 50 individuals would be allowed in and outdoors, while keeping a distance of 3-to-6 feet. Moderate-risk sports would be able to compete and practice regularly. High-risk sports (football, wrestling, lacrosse and competitive cheer) would be allowed to begin practices, but would have to follow pre-screening rules from Phase 2 and shower immediately after practices. Equipment should should not be shared and hydration stations may be used, but will need to be cleaned after every practice. In Phase 3 spectators would also be allowed.

Barring any setbacks, Stevens, Ferry and Pend Oreille Counties will be able to request entry into Phase 3 starting June 1. If it is able to reach Phase 3 as soon as possible, there would be over two months to enter into Phase 4 and resume normal practices before the start of the fall seasons.