South Dakota high schools will be allowed to begin summer sports/activities on June 1, pending board approval. The South Dakota High School Activities Association released its proposed summer 2020 contact recommendations Friday afternoon. The guidance would be in effect from June 1 through July 31, but is subject to change based on conditions.
The SDHSAA has called a special board of directors meeting for next Thursday to discuss summer contact and football classifications.
The guidance, which is similar to the document distributed by the national federation last week, is designed to safely ease athletes and coaches back into sports and activities, with a focus on decreasing potential exposure to respiratory droplets through social distancing and the use of face coverings.
The SDHSAA notes that due to the nature of the outbreak, there will be inequities depending upon geography, both for students’ ability to return and what types of activities will be able to be experienced.
“While the SDHSAA would typically have reservations about this inequity,” the document reads, “our goal for this summer is to allow students to return to school-based athletics and activities in any and all situations where it can be done safely.”
The SDHSAA also emphasizes the importance of taking care to recondition athletes back to physical activity. This was also a point of emphasis for the Sioux Falls Public Schools, which released their “Return to Play” guidelines on Tuesday.
“Primarily all of our sports, these kids haven’t done much,” Sioux Falls School District activities director Casey Meile said. “They’ve done remote learning (through Avera and Sanford Health)…but not a lot of them have touched a weight. So we had to take that into consideration, too. When we get these kids back, they’re not going to be at the level they were when they left.”
Not unlike Sioux Falls (which also utilized the NFHS for guidance), the SDHSAA return to activities plan is divided into three phases. It is recommended that schools and programs start at Phase One and remain there for at least 14 days.
In accordance with Gov. Kristi Noem’s “Back to Normal” plan, if there is a downward or flat trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period, schools may progress to phase two, where a new 14-day period of tracking cases should begin.
The SDHSAA is also following the NFHS guidance on categorizing sports/activities based on risk.
Lower risk activities can be done either with social distancing or individually with no sharing of equipment or the ability to clean equipment between use by competitors. Examples include: golf, weight training, sideline cheer, individual running events, cross country running (with staggered starts), throwing events (shot put, discus, javelin), debate, oral interp.
Moderate risk activities involve close contact but with protective measures in place. Examples include: basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, soccer, gymnastics, tennis, pole vault, high jump, long jump, 7-on-7 football and one-act plays. Tennis, volleyball, gymnastics and track events could be considered “lower risk” with appropriate cleaning of equipment and use of mask by participants.
Higher risk activities involve close, sustained contact between participants with lack of significant protective barriers. This creates a high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants. Examples include: football, wrestling and competitive cheer and dance.
For chorus, orchestra and music, the NFHS is currently investigating the extent of spread of respiratory droplets during singing or the playing of wind instruments. “Until that is determined, all of those activities should be considered ‘higher risk’ and practice should be individual,” the document reads.
Here are how the phases will look
- Pre-workout screening: All coaches and participants should be screened for coronavirus symptoms, including a temperature check, with responses to screening questions recorded and stored for contact tracing purposes. Anyone with positive responses on the screening should not be allowed to take part in the workout and should be referred to their doctor. These individuals should receive medical clearance before returning. Vulnerable individuals should not oversee or participate in any workouts.
- Limitations on gatherings: No more than 10 people at a time (inside or outside), including participants and players, with a minimum of six feet between each individual at all times. Locker rooms should not be utilized and workouts should be conducted in 5-10 person pods with the same groups always working out together. Smaller pods should be used for weight training.
- Cleaning: In addition to personal hygiene recommendations, hard surfaces within the facility (i.e. door handles, chairs, furniture, locker rooms, weight room equipment, bathrooms and training tables) should be wiped down and sanitized. Hand sanitizer should be plentiful and available to individuals, and shirts and shoes should be worn at all times. Equipment with exposed foam should be covered. Students are encouraged to shower and wash their workout clothing immediately upon returning home.
- Physical activity and equipment: There should be no shared athletic equipment between students (i.e. balls, towels, clothing, shoes, or sport specific equipment) and all athletic equipment, including balls, should be cleaned after each use and prior to the next workout. Individual drills requiring the use of athletic equipment can be permissible, but the equipment should be cleaned between use of each individual. Free weight exercises that require a spotter are not allowed. Resistance training should be emphasized as body weight, sub-maximal lifts and use of resistance bands.
- Hydration: No sharing of water bottles; hydration stations (i.e. water fountains) should not be utilized.
- Pre-workout screening, cleaning, hydration: Same as Phase 1.
- Limitations on gatherings: No more than 10 people at a time indoors, but up to 50 individuals may gather outdoors. If locker rooms or meeting rooms are being used, there must be at least six feet between each individual at all times. Workouts should be continued with the same 5-10 person pods.
- Physical activity and equipment: Lower risk sports practices may resume, while modified practices may begin for moderate risk sports/activities. There should be no shared athletic towels, clothing, pennies/shirts, or shoes between students, and all equipment (including balls) should be cleaned intermittently during practices and contests. Maximum lifts should be limited and power cages should be used for squats and bench presses. Spotters should stand at each end of the bar.
- Cleaning: Same as Phase 1.
- Pre-workout screening: Anyone who has had a fever or cold symptoms in the previous 24 hours should not be allowed to participate and should be referred to their doctor. A record should be kept of all individuals present. Vulnerable individuals can resume public interactions, but should practice social distancing and minimize exposure to settings where social distancing may not be practical.
- Limitations on gatherings: Gathering sizes of up to 50 individuals, indoors and outdoors, may resume. When not participating, social distancing (3-6 feet) should be observed.
- Physical activity and equipment: Moderate risk sports practices may begin. Modified practices for higher risk sports may begin, with pre-practice screenings as in Phases 1 and 2 and showers immediately after practices/workouts. There should be no shared athletic towels, clothing, or shoes between students. All athletic equipment, including balls, should be cleaned intermittently during practices and between sessions, while other equipment, such as wrestling ear guards and football helmets, should be worn by only one individual and not shared. Maximum lifts should be limited and power cages should be used for squats and bench presses. Spotters should stand at each end of the bar.
Follow Brian Haenchen on Twitter at @Brian_Haenchen.