WIAA updates return to play guidelines

WIAA state softball, soccer, baseball, track brackets and highlights/scores

RENTON, Wash. — The Governor’s Office and Washington State Department of Health issued new guidance for returning to education-based sports and activities, Tuesday, using the statistical benchmarks of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in a given county as well as the percentage of positive tests. The WIAA has used this guidance from the Department of Health to develop new general, as well as sport-specific, return-to-play guidelines which will replace those previously tied to phasing in the Governor’s Safe Start Plan. The Governor’s office has informed the WIAA that these guidelines must be followed and neither schools nor community sports programs have the authority to implement more lenient policies.

These revised guidelines give greater flexibility to school administrators to offer education-based athletics and activities and meet the demand of their students and communities. The WIAA Executive Board and staff are pleased with the work that has been done to allow students to be more involved with their schools, as participation in the school setting provides safer and more equitable opportunities for students, especially during this time. Staff will continue to work with decision-makers to evaluate participation in sports deemed high-risk by reviewing all data and documentation available in hopes it may be appropriate to qualify them as moderate risk.

County benchmarks will be used to determine which sports or activities are recommended to take place based on COVID-19 activity in the county. Each county’s status can be found on the Washington Risk Assessment Dashboard along with communicating directly with local health departments. These benchmarks mirror those issued by the Department of Health to aid schools in their decision-making process for models of in-person/remote learning. The three tiers indicate low, moderate or high risk and allow for varying levels of participation:

HIGH >75 cases/100K/14 days OR >5% positivity

  • Team practices and/or training can resume for low, medium, and high-risk sports if players are limited to groups of six in separate parts of the field/court and separated by a buffer zone. Brief, close contact (e.g. 3-on-3 drills) is permitted. It is preferable for the groups of six to be stable over time. Attendance rosters should include group contact information. Each league, organization, or club must publish and follow a “return to play” safety plan.  Any practice or training activities that can be done outdoors should be done outdoors.
  • Scrimmage, intra-team competitions, and league games or competition allowed for low-risk sports, but are discouraged if the school is not conducting some in-person learning.
  • No tournaments allowed.
  • No spectators allowed except for one parent/guardian/caregiver for each student-participant in uniform. Spectators must maintain a physical distance of at least six (6) feet between each person.

MODERATE >25-75 cases/100K/14 days AND <5% positivity

  • Scrimmage, intra-team competitions, and league games allowed for both low and moderate-risk sporting activities. Scrimmage, intra-team competitions allowed for high-risk sporting activities.
  • No tournaments allowed.
  • No spectators allowed except for one adult parent/guardian/caregiver for each student-participant in uniform. Spectators must maintain physical distance of at least six (6) feet between each person.

LOW <25 cases/100K/14 days AND <5% positivity

  • Scrimmage, intra-team competitions, and league games allowed for low, moderate, and high-risk sporting activities.
  • Tournaments allowed.
  • Spectators to follow gathering size limit of the Safe Start Plan.

A prohibition on tournaments for sporting activities does not include postseason, playoff, regional or state championship competitions sanctioned by a statewide interscholastic activities administrative and rule-making body that oversees competition in all counties in the state.

Each WIAA sport is classified into low, moderate and high risk categories as follows:

LOW-RISK SPORTING ACTIVITIES:

  • Cross Country
  • Golf
  • Sideline/no-contact cheerleading and dance
  • Swimming and Diving
  • Tennis
  • Track and Field

MODERATE-RISK SPORTING ACTIVITIES:

  • Baseball
  • Bowling
  • Gymnastics
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Volleyball

HIGH-RISK SPORTING ACTIVITIES:

  • Basketball
  • Cheerleading with contact
  • Dance with contact
  • Football
  • Wrestling

The complete guidelines will be updated as any changes are made and will be available at wiaa.com/covid.