In late June, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association released its COVID-19 guidance plan for opening high school athletics and activities. The full document is 15 pages long, so this overview will break it down into something more digestible.
The first section of the guidelines details the measures that need to be taken regardless of what stage a county is in.
Coaches should wear cloth face masks at all times. Student athletes should bring their own water, shoes, clothing, and towels to practices and not share them with others. Everyone should also stay home if sick, practice physical distancing, and practice good hygiene (wash hands, use hand sanitizer, cover sneezes/coughs, shower, and wash clothes immediately after practice). Surfaces and equipment should be regularly sanitized and practices should be held outside if possible, but if not, proper ventilation must be ensured. Athletes should travel to games and practices individually or with family whenever possible. Any competitions that would require long distance trips on buses or vans should not be planned far in advance, as there’s no telling what stage any county will be at a given date, and teams might have to reschedule.
Next, the guidelines divide sports into three different “risk levels.”
Lower risk sports, where athletes can always be physically distanced from each other and equipment isn’t shared (golf and individual racing sports).
Medium risks sports, where athletes come into close contact intermittently or equipment is shared (basketball, volleyball, tennis, baseball, softball, and soccer).
Higher risks sports, where athletes come into close contact for extended periods of time (wrestling, football).
The “risk level” that’s permitted depends on what stage a county is in, and there are other additional restrictions for each stage as well.
No group workouts, practices, or competitions of any kind are allowed.
Informal workouts and practices may be held in consistent pods of five students and one coach (physical distancing must be maintained). Additionally, locker rooms may not be used, and sharing equipment is not permitted.
Lower risk sports may begin practices and competitions. Medium risks sports may begin modified practices. Athletes should continue to practice in consistent pods, but ten people are allowed per pod (physical distancing must still be maintained). Additionally, locker rooms may be used (with physical distancing), and equipment may be shared, but must be regularly sanitized.
Medium risk sports may begin practices and competitions. Pods are no longer required, but physical distancing must still be maintained by anyone who isn’t practicing or competing. The restrictions on locker rooms and equipment usage from stage 3 still apply.
As for high risk sports, the WIAA says it 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.” As for what that will actually add up to, only time will tell.