NFHS releases phases for reopening of high school sports

Posted at 10:11 AM, May 20, 2020

Due to COVID-19, sport events have been canceled in accordance with CDC and state government guidelines.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has released guidance for its 51 member state high school associations to consider in reopening high school athletics and other activity programs across the nation.

The guidance document was developed by the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC), composed of medical doctors, certified athletic trainers, high school coaches and officials, research specialists and state high school association executives.

Michael Koester, M.D., chair of the NFHS SMAC, stressed that the guidance is intended as ideas for states in accordance with state's restrictions.

The guidance breaks down the plan into phases, similar to the phases of “opening up” outlined by the White House last month.

The guidance developed for state associations suggests a possible sport breakdown for higher risk, moderate risk and lower risk, with the basis for the breakdown tied to the potential exposure to respiratory droplets.

The interaction of participants in higher-risk sports such as football and wrestling present more of a concern for transmission of the virus than lower-risk sports like individual running events and golf.

According to the guidance, in Phase One, all athletes and coaches will be screened prior to working out.Locker rooms should not be utilized during Phase 1. Students should report to workouts in proper gear and immediately return home to shower at end of the workout.

The guidance gives an example of a football player. A football player should not participate in team drills with a single ball that will be handed off or passed to other teammates. Contact with other players is not allowed, and there should be no sharing of tackling dummies/donuts/sleds, according to the guidance.

By Phase Three, moderate risk sports practices and competitions may begin. Moderate sports include sports, such as volleyball, basketball, and baseball. During Phase Three, modified practices can begin for high risk sports like football.

To read the full guidance, click here.