The Virginia High School League (VHSL) has released a document outlining guidelines for the return to high school sports in the fall.
The league oversees all high school athletics in the state of Virginia.
In the document, VHSL illustrates a three-phase plan for the return that includes sport-specific guidelines, dependent on the sport’s determined risk level. The league will move through the phases according to local guidelines, and it has not disclosed how long each phase will last.
Lower infection risk activities include:
- Cross country
- track and field
- scholastic bowl
Moderate infection risk activities include:
- field hockey
- However, the organization determined that with appropriate cleaning of equipment and use of face coverings, volleyball, baseball, softball and gymnastics could be considered lower infection risk.
High infection risk activities include:
- boys and girls lacrosse
- competition cheerleading
Phase 1 of the plan is a complete ban of all activities, including practices and games. Currently, all sports governed by the league remain in this phase until further notice.
Under phase 2, there are still less-limited restrictions. However, social distancing measures still remain intact, especially in the sports deemed high risk. Some of these restrictions include:
- Limiting capacity at all outdoor practices to 50% and all indoor practices to 30%
- Athletes and coaches being subject to daily health screenings
- Athletes are not allowed to share water bottles
- Celebratory forms of contact (handshakes, fist bumps, etc.) are not allowed
- All athletes must have their own equipment, especially in sports such as football and basketball.
Under phase 2, the only guidance provided for swimming specifically is “all relay teams should social distance”.
Phase 3 of the guidelines have not been released yet, and will be determined at a later date.
With the announcement, Virginia joins a slew of states attempting to salvage their high school sports seasons. However, in most cases the situation remains uncertain.
The Missouri School Boards’ Association (MSBA) recently published their recommendations for returning to schools, including a clause about revising “activities that bring large numbers of students and the public together”. Under this, Missouri high school swim season may be at-risk of being canceled. The UIL in Texas has allowed high schools to resume workouts, both conditioning and skills-based, with restrictions.