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MHSAA announces guidelines for winter sports

The Mississippi High School Activities Association released a list of COVID-19 guidelines for winter sports and extra curricular activities that schools will need to abide by.

The main question still looming is how attendance will be restricted, and at the moment the MHSAA hasn’t made a decision.

That power will likely rest with Gov. Tate Reeves as he’s already implemented attendance restrictions for fall sports like football.

Some of the protocols involving venues include all attendees wearing masks and testing auxiliary personnel, although schools will have the freedom to determine what the testing process will entail.

There is an expectation that shared equipment, like balls and chairs, will be sanitized daily after each use along with the sanitation of shared areas like locker rooms.                                               

“Spirit teams” will be allowed to participate in game days as well.

Cheer and dance teams can be on the sidelines, but must be spaced properly to allow for social distancing.

Schools will be required to provide the necessary personal protection equipment for coaches, and the coaches should try and have a water bottle for each individual player to prevent the sharing of equipment.

For officials, host schools will be expected to provide a private area for officials to use that is disinfected and cleaned before arrival, and after each use.

Officials should also have their own personal beverages to cut down on the sharing of water bottles.

A statistician, or other personnel, for the visiting team are currently not deemed “essential” by the MHSAA, which means they may have to find another spot in a gym or stadium to observe the game outside of the official’s table. Transportation regulations for the most part will be left up to individual schools and school districts.

However, assigned seating is suggested by the MHSAA, along with the usage of face coverings when social distancing isn’t possible.

The MHSAA will allow non-traditional students, athletes in virtual learning, the opportunity to participate in winter sports and extra curricular activities.

Most local school district policies state that virtual students are not allowed to participate in extra curricular activities.

MHSAA’s stance on that is if there is a district policy stating otherwise, then the local district’s policy will take precedence and it will be the district’s decision on whether or not to allow the athlete to compete.

The last main guideline has to do with a scenario in which a team can’t play a game because of COVID-19.

“Before a sports season begins, member schools who choose to participate must agree to abide by the following: In the event any contest is not played during the regular season or playoffs, the game will be a no-contest. For playoff seeding purposes, the game will be considered a forfeited game (loss) by the school team who chooses not to participate. The opponent will receive a “win” for the cancelled game.” The guidelines are preliminary and subject to change as the pandemic continues.

To see the full list of guidelines go to misshsaa.com.