At a meeting at Siegel High School on Wednesday, the TSSAA Board of Control unanimously approved a set of regulations that will immediately go into effect and last until the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.
The restrictions don’t just affect the players and coaches, they will trickle down to spectators as well. At contests and games, before entering a facility, players, coaches, team personnel, officials, administrators, cheerleaders, band members and fans must have their temperatures checked. Those with a temperature above 100.4 degrees will be turned away from entering.
Schools are also asked to limit fan attendance into contests in order to allow for adequate social distancing. The TSSAA recommended having one-fourth or one-third of regular capacity.
Member schools will also require that all fans wear facial coverings while at games. Children under the age of 2 years old will be exempt from needing facial coverings.
Concession stands are discouraged by the TSSAA; however, this is not an official mandate. If a school runs concession stands, the association recommends social distancing, masks and call-in orders.
If a public address system is used, the host school must make announcements reminding spectators about physical distancing. The host schools are responsible for providing staff to frequently clean and sanitize areas.
On the practice field, players, coaches and personnel must undergo temperature checks. Those with a temperature above 100.4 will require the person to go home, and they can’t return to practice until receiving a negative COVID-19 test or a doctor’s note.
No coach, player or personnel can compete in a contest or practice without going through a COVID-19 screening. Focus for these tests will be weekly.
Scrimmages, jamborees, 7-on-7s and practices with other teams will not be allowed. Those will only occur in official contests. Offseason practice must remain noncontact.
“The regulations and guidelines the board passed today go into effect immediately for all sports,” said Bernard Childress, Executive Director of the TSSAA. “We’re hopeful that the prohibition on contact sports will be lifted before Aug. 29, but if it’s not, the Board of Control has put some policies in place to help keep our kids and communities safe and lay out a roadmap to the start of our football and girls’ soccer seasons.”
Schools will also require teams to adhere to guidelines during competition, including in the pregame. While it’s customary for players and coaches to shake hands prior to competition, the TSSAA said those should not take place during the pandemic.
Additionally, the pregame conference will involve fewer officials, coaches and staff than in years past.
On the sidelines, social distancing is encouraged for bench personnel. Schools should carefully consider the role of all bench personnel and eliminate nonessential roles. Players and coaches should provide their own water and sports drinks.
The officials table and press box will be limited to essential personnel to ensure social distancing. Schools once again should carefully consider the role of all personnel at the official’s table and press box.
If available, dressing facilities for game officials and teams should be large enough for social distancing protocols. Those facilities should be properly cleaned and sanitized prior to their arrival.
During contests, officials are not responsible for monitoring activities on the sidelines, such as social distancing, hand washing, etc. The responsibility is left to school personnel.
Cloth face coverings will be permissible. If worn, teams should be solid in color, all alike and not contain images or logos.
Electronic whistles are permissible for officials, but are not likely available. Officials also should bring their own water or sports drinks.
At the end of the competition, postgame handshakes are discouraged from taking place this year.
The full list of regulations and guidelines can be found here.