The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association released much-anticipated guidelines for schools to resume athletic activities in the form of summer coach contact on July 1, 2020. The WIAA indicates that the guidelines were formed in collaboration with the governor’s office, the Department of Public Instruction, and the Department of Health Services.
The full text of the guidelines, which are now publicly available on the WIAA website, as well as the WIAA email sent to all schools that has been obtained by WSN can be found below.
The WIAA guidelines mirror in many ways the guidance announced several weeks ago by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). There are risk levels for different sports, and there are risk levels for different localities. A key part of the WIAA’s guidelines is a local approach to resumption of play, with the “risk level determined by state, local and Tribal health departments”.
WIAA LETTER TO SCHOOLS
Dear School Administrator,
Since the Board of Control approved an extension of summertime coaching contact at its May meeting, the Executive Staff has been collaborating with numerous entities to develop guidelines for resuming WIAA summertime activities in response to the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Within what has been a rapidly changing and evolving environment, we’ve done our best to research, examine and assemble the best advice we could identify, because this mission and responsibility is larger than just sports.
The guidelines created were produced and reviewed by the collaborative efforts and contributions of the doctors on the WIAA Sports Medical Advisory Committee, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the Department of Public Instruction and the office of Governor Evers with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Federation of State High School Associations. The WIAA staff has also been collaborating with leadership of the Wisconsin School Music Association, Wisconsin High School Forensics Association and the Alliance for Wisconsin Theater Education.
Information contained in the document (see link below) is derived from the best information available to health experts at this time, and like the ever-evolving nature of this pandemic, is subject to change or be amended if more information becomes available. The health and safety of student-athletes, staff and community remains the top priority in determining all return-to-play consideration.
These recommendations identify and focus on the assessment of two separate risk categories for potential exposure to respiratory droplets and transmitting COVID-19 contaminants, as well as the mitigation for spread of the virus.
First, there is an over-arching local and regional level of risk that is based on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, healthcare access and availability, trending number of cases either up or down, etc. This risk level is determined by state, local and Tribal health departments. Guidelines associated with these risk levels are located in Section A “Conduct of Conditioning and Practice Sessions” on page 4 of the guidelines document.
Second, the guidance identifies specific sports which, by their nature, are stratified as higher risk, moderate risk and lower risk. The rationale for the breakdown is associated with the amount of physical contact and duration of contact. As an example, the interaction of participants in higher-risk sports such as football and wrestling present more of a concern for transmission of the COVID-19 than lower-risk sports like golf. These sport levels of risk are identified in Section B “Contests” on page 11 of the guidelines document.
It will be the decision of each school’s district administrator to determine if athletics and other activities may operate in compliance with state, local and tribal health department directives as determined by each community’s most current level of risk.
With the release of these guidelines, we anticipate identifying the level of risk within your communities will be foremost on the minds of many in your district. To address an expressed concern about inundating state, local and tribal health departments with inquiries on your community’s level of risk, we strongly recommend that district administrators designate one person in your district to serve as the liaison to handle all communications with state, local and tribal health departments.
Additional information, including sport-specific guidelines and other best-practice resources, will be provided as they become available in the coming days and weeks or when new information from leading health organizations requires amending.