The MPSSAA has broken each season into four time frames based on the cyclical operations member schools face throughout the course of an interscholastic season. Under these timeframes are specific guidance to assist Local School System (LSS) systematically implement interscholastic athletics. These time frames include preparation, preseason, participation, and postseason.
The preseason timeframe focuses on the re-engagement of students and coaches throughout the first three CDC described risk assessments.
- Lowest Risk: Performing skill-building drills or conditioning at home, alone or with family members.
- Increasing Risk: Team-based practice.
- More Risk: Within-team competition.
Lowest Risk: Performing skill-building drills or conditioning at home, alone or with family members.
Goals: Re-engagement of student-athletes and the reintroduction of athletics and activities for the betterment of the social, emotional, and physical well-being.
- School systems operating during the lowest risk are recommended to reframe any form of in-person contact with students.
- Regarding the well-being of students during the global pandemic, schools and coaches are recommended to virtually engage students through controlled and safe measures put into place by the LSS.
- Virtual sessions may be for student check ins, virtual conditioning workouts for students on their own time,
- Virtual sessions may not be considered as a prerequisite for team tryouts and voluntary.
- Any virtual contact with students must occur on approved platforms through the LSS.
- LSS are recommended to have a submitted parent permission and have a current physical on file for any conditioning instructions of students.
- Coaches may not conduct virtual team sport-specific practices or in-person practices.
- School coaching staffs may meet virtually regarding sport-specific instruction with up to two returning student-athletes per day, per MPSSAA regulations.
- Any virtual engagement by coaches with students must be communicated to athletic directors.
Increasing Risk: Summer out-of-season school-based open conditioning, exercise, weight training, and non-sport specific student gatherings/In-Season Team Based Practices
Goals: The resocialization of sport to increased physical activity and practice while being mindful of the health and safety of our youth and high school athletes, coaches/personnel, parents/caregivers and spectators.
LSS Recommendations: LSS may be operating in the Increasing Risk category during Summer out-of-season timeframe through school-based open conditioning, exercise, weight training, and non-sport specific student gatherings or in-season through team based practices. The following recommendations apply to both in and out-of-season student and coach contact.
- LSS operating during the increasing risk stage are recommended to have the procedures outlined in the preparation phase in place before interactions begin.
- LSS should have a communication strategy in place to handle determinations of returning to the Lowest Risk Stage or what to do in regards to a positive case.
- During this phase, individual workouts are allowed to begin on campus or at the organization’s facility. However, groups must be in compliance with the most recent state order and protocols on social gathering sizes.
- It is recommended schools begin with inclusion of small groups. The space should be separated by a barrier or large enough distance that individuals can maximize social distance and no players/coaches should be within 6 feet of each other.
- State ordered guidance may permit gradual increase in the size of gatherings while maintaining social distancing.
- Athletes should not interact with anyone outside the area where their individual workout is located.
- Any equipment used during activities should be disinfected with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified products between each use.
- Gathering limitations and cleaning to be enforced by school administration, not the athletic trainer.
- LSS may allow for coaching staffs to work with two players per day with all precautions in place.
- General concept: Get in, Get out and complete essential training.
- Practices must be in compliance with heat acclimatization policies.
- Minimal protective equipment (i.e. helmets only for football) should be used during initial stages and gradually increase.
- Team drills can occur where players are less than 6 feet apart, but this should be minimized to brief one-on-one drills. LSS may choose to allow certain sports to begin based on the individual risk of each sport.
- No two teams should be in the same location at one time. If the same field or gym will be used back to back, allow ample time between sessions to clean the area between teams. Half field use is permitted. Be sure that there is no interaction between teams.
More Risk: Within Team Competitions
Goals: The resocialization of sport to increased practice and competition between a larger squad that may incur limited contact while being mindful of the health and safety of our youth and high school athletes, coaches/personnel, parents/caregivers and spectators.
- LSS operating during the more risk stage are recommended to have the procedures outlined in the preparation phase in place.
- LSS should have a communication strategy in place to handle determinations of returning to the previous Risk Stages or what to do in regards to a positive case.
- LSS should focus on this phase of continuing all precautions in the previous phase with specified game-like simulations that may incur contact based on the nature of the sport to specified times.
- At the conclusion or during breaks of game-like simulations or within team competitions, proper disinfection should be used on all equipment and proper hand hygiene should be used by all participants.
- Participants on the sidelines or taking breaks should continue to use social distancing.
- During competitions, spectators should practice social distancing as permissible.