The COVID-19 pandemic presents state high school associations with a myriad of challenges. The WIAA in partnership with the NFHS and WIAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committees (SMACs) offers this document as guidance on how WIAA member schools can consider approaching the many components of “opening up” high school athletics and activities across the state of Washington.
The NFHS and WIAA SMACs believe it is essential to the physical and mental well-being of high school students across the nation to return to physical activity and athletic competition. It is not likely that ALL students will be able to return to – and sustain – athletic activity at the same time in all schools and regions in Washington. There will also likely be variation in what sports and activities are allowed to be played and held. While we would typically have reservations regarding such inequities, the NFHS SMAC endorses the idea of returning students to school-based athletics and activities in any and all situations where it can be done safely and in alignment with reopening policies set forth by the local school district and OSPI framework .
The recommendations presented in this document were originally developed by the NFHS SMAC as guidelines for state associations to design return-to-activity guidelines that are in accordance with state and local guidelines and restrictions. The WIAA has engaged with the Governor’s Office as well as the State Department of Health and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop guidelines regarding coordinated approaches for return-to-activity for high school and middle schools. This document provides guidelines for school athletics and activities for each of the 4 phases in the Safe Start Washington plan. The WIAA recommends school districts consult with local and state health departments to review if they are using guidance from this approach to verify how the stages in this document correspond to Governor Inslee’s directives for each school and school district’s specific area. Note: when a school, schools, or district are closed due to COVID-19, all training, practice, and contests for the school(s) or district should also be canceled
As we gain more information about the virus and receive continued feedback from healthcare professionals, these documents will be adjusted to adapt to an ever-changing environment. In addition to the health and safety guidelines provided from SMACs, WIAA staff has worked with the membership and affiliate groups to develop activity-specific guidelines beginning with the fall season. These documents have also been attached and will continue to be revised as those committees continue to meet heading into the fall season.