Serving Kentucky's Schools and Student Athletes Since 1917

07/31/20- Update for Member Schools Regarding Fall Sports and Current Activity

August 3, 2020 AAA-Covid-19

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Greetings to all related constituents and constituent groups. While Joe Angolia from our office previously distributed a summary of this week’s Board actions to the membership and the public, I thought it a good idea to get additional information out to you. In the process this week, we have also received several inquiries and we can try to ensure those are answered as well. Everyone reading this though has to be mindful that things could change at a moment’s notice, and all information should be considered as of July 29. I apologize in advance for the length of this communication.

Schools should keep in mind the Board is currently composed of 8 Superintendents, 1 Principal, 1 AD/Coach, a Guidance Counselor, 3 Other District administrators, in addition to 2 Superintendents and 1 Principal on the Board as Advisory Members during this Covid-19 situation. Schools are extremely well represented by these individuals along with four other members appointed by the Kentucky Board of Education, three of which are former Kentucky school system employees and a fourth who is a businessman. This represents a cross-section of the entire state and gives our Board a tremendous balance from which to make decisions without favoring one area of the state or one philosophy or another.

NEXT STEPS

  • We will, of course, monitor current data and remain in constant contact with the Department of Education, Department of Public Health, the Governor’s office, and our Board of Control as we work through the next few weeks.
  • Please contact the KHSAA office staff with any requests for interpretations. Per the Constitution, this office should be the SOLE source for interpretations of current guidelines. It is absolutely critical that messaging and answers be consistent during these times. It could very well be that an answer will not be immediately available but once all factors are considered, an answer will be provided. Keep in mind the data points, both health and sports-related, are constantly changing.
  • Staff will be developing a frequently asked questions document where we will attempt to clarify any issues. We will continue to update sports-specific guidance as more detailed and clarifying information is made available and formulated from a wide variety of inputs and sources. Our revised target to post fall sports rules clinics is this week, and as much as it is possible, we will try and include revised guidelines.
  • We will be updating Superintendents regarding Middle School play through the Commissioner’s office. While this does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Board of Control, it is important that the multiple levels be congruent in terms of allowances.
  • As we advised the Board at its meeting, we will plan on submitting a draft contest plan (a Healthy at Sports Document for play to begin on September 7 for most sports) by August 10, hopeful of clarifications on a variety of issues including attendance, concessions, travel, and a plethora of other issues. While we realize many of you want answers far in advance (as do we), taking a more measured incremental approach has proven to be a strong strategy in dealing with the pandemic.
  • Once we know contest guidance, THEN we will start working on winter sports as the entirety of our efforts and focus are on the start of fall sports and a successful start to the school year.
  • We will also communicate in great detail in the coming days about changes to the KHSAA Bylaws necessary due to the pandemic.
  • Lastly, fall sports tournament competition is a lower priority at this point. While possible venue alterations and allowances are being preliminarily reviewed, the entirety of the current focus is on regular-season opportunities for students and the start of fall instruction.

FALL SPORTS

  • At its meeting on Tuesday, July 28, the Board’s first action was to decide what sports were to be played in the fall. The Board had previously determined at its July 10 meeting that we would definitely sponsor fall sports opportunities and held this meeting to confirm which sports would be played and when they would begin.
  • Click here to review the data and items specifically reviewed by the Board of Control
  • Staff had reviewed and presented the pros and cons to various alternatives in the event that the Board felt it wanted to alter the normal fall offerings. Following a statewide review of the data as well as a review of information and opinions that they had been provided by their constituents, the Board made the determination to play the regular fall sports offerings in the fall (it was noted that high school golf had been allowed to begin at its normal time during action at the July 10 meeting). It is important to note the cross-participation data at the link above for the impact of arbitrarily moving seasons unless that is the absolute last resort.
  • There will be no interscholastic scrimmages allowed this year for fall sports.
  • Full-scale intrasquad scrimmages (with game-like situations) may only occur during the week prior to the start of the season.

FALL SPORTS – CROSS COUNTRY, FIELD HOCKEY, SOCCER AND VOLLEYBALL

  • After a lengthy discussion, the Board then determined that no official activity (required practice) could occur until August 24, with the first contest in any sport (except football) able to be played the week of September 7.
  • The Board considered a start date for competition on August 31, but in the end, concluded the extra week would be of great benefit to the membership. The Board further determined that with a great many schools beginning instruction on August 24, a limitation on practice needed to be in place to assist schools with those first few days of analyzing operations.
  • Following discussion, it was determined that the best course of action was to have that entire first week with a maximum of 7.5 hours for the week of August 24 to August 30, which allowed for 1.5 hours per day, 2.5 hours for three of the days, to some other means of breaking up the maximum.
  • There remains some concern about indoor play vs. outdoor play but no documentation as of yet of any additional risk and no data yet available from the plethora of indoor events held and being held in a variety of states by other organizations during the pandemic. 
  • The discussion then turned to game limits. To address concerns about the amount of time in the now-shortened season compared to the normal limitation of games, the Board then concurred with a recommendation that the game limit be pro-rated to balance with the lost time in the season.
  • After deciding to add a week (previously containing the district tournament) to the regular season for soccer, the Board approved the reduction of games to the levels that were distributed across sports.
  • Each of the game limits for those sports, who are permitted to play multiple contests each week, were subsequently trimmed by approximately 1/3 to reach a total of 14 games (soccer, down from 21), 24 games (volleyball, down from 35), 16 (field hockey, down from 24) and 9 (cross country, down from 13). This also was done to ensure that those scheduling contests in those sports didn’t attempt to play repeatedly and more than normal each week to ensure the continued balance with academics as was contemplated in the current Bylaw 23 limitations.

FALL PRACTICE – COMPETITIVE CHEER AND DANCE

  • After discussing competitive cheer and dance, the Board concurred that practice for both could begin on August 24 with the same 7.5 hour time limitation through August 30. Because early competitions are held during the fall and due to practice normally starting on July 15 with fall sports, the Board felt it timely to consider these at the same time.
  • There are no specific limitations on the number of competitions as only the postseason is regulated by the limitation of seasons and catastrophic insurance coverage.

FALL SPORTS – FOOTBALL

  • After an additional lengthy discussion, football was discussed. As with the other sports, the Board considered all available data from throughout the country, including anecdotal data about disease transmission, etc. While there is no evidence of competitor to competitor transmission of the virus during practice or competition, the Board reviewed possible alternatives to help further ensure that the sport poses no additional risk.
  • After this discussion, the Board approved starting the playoffs one week later than normal and reducing the season from 11 weeks to 9 weeks for regular season play.
  • The Board then approved a three-week window for fall practice beginning with the issuance of helmets on August 24 with the first week being time and activity limited. In order to adhere to the acclimation and acclimatization guidelines, the following is the minimum schedule exists
    • Aug 24 (Helmets Only, Total Time 7.5 hours during the week)
    • Aug 31 (Shoulder Pads)
    • Sep 3 (Full Gear)
    • Sep 11 (First Game Original Week 4)
  • There is no obligation to play during the first week, September 11, if a school feels it is not prepared.
  • Based on feedback from the members through the Kentucky Football Coaches Association, there is no planned change in the playoff format, but that is subject to continual review.
  • Football teams may play no more than one varsity game per week with a maximum of nine (9) regular-season games.
  • Due to contracts and re-scheduling, there are no scheduling grid restrictions for member schools having to adjust district games.

COMPETITION SQUAD LIMITATIONS FOR FALL SPORTS

In an effort to help ensure appropriate social distancing, the following restrictions and adaptations were approved for the fall sports, in most cases matching existing postseason restrictions. This will be an aid as game guidance is developed to help ensure that the bench areas contain fewer players, and more social distancing is implemented.

  • The limitation for field hockey, soccer, volleyball is established at the region and state limitations. field hockey and soccer may have 24 players in uniform and participating in warm-ups and competition while volleyball will be permitted 15 players in uniform and participating in warm-ups and competition.
  • Cross Country will be permitted a team entry not to exceed 10 runners, the current postseason roster limitation. Additional runners, as have always been permitted as individuals, may possibly be allowed depending upon the decisions of meet management and within overall meet limits as may be approved in the Healthy at Sports final documents for competition.
  • The limitation for football at any game is established at sixty (60) players in uniform and participating in warm-ups and competitions

SCHEDULING RESTRICTIONS FOR ALL SPORTS AND SPORT-ACTIVITIES UNTIL FURTHER ALTERED

The Board approved two adjustments to Bylaw 22 and its scheduling restrictions.

  • First, out of state contests are restricted.
    • Kentucky teams may only participate in contests (at home or away) against KHSAA member schools in Kentucky, or those schools located in a county in an adjacent state (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee or Missouri) where the county in which that school is located is contiguous to Kentucky.
    • This would also preclude any participation by foreign teams at this time, including Canada and Mexico.
    • This provision will be reviewed during the final development of the Healthy at Sports document and any further revisions will be supplied to the membership.
  • Secondly, there will be no NFHS sanctioned events approved until further notice which involve:
    • Events in non-bordering states if five (5) or more states are involved or
    • Events in non-bordering states if more than eight (8) schools are involved.
    • If the only reason for sanction being required is the co-sponsor or titling of the event but the contest meets the restrictions listed above, NFHS sanction will be considered.
    • Thirdly, until further notice and to aid member schools in meeting social distancing requirements, events hosted by KHSAA member schools in Baseball, Basketball, Field Hockey, Soccer, Softball, and Volleyball are limited to a total of eight (8) teams in each facility.

SEEDED DISTRICTS (SOCCER AND VOLLEYBALL)

The Board approved changes to the postseason seeding provisions within the competition rules.

  • All districts that have voted to seed will be reduced to a one-game seed plan until further notice.
  • If teams within a district play multiple times, the first game played shall be counted as the seeded game.
  • Seed games unable to be played directly related to Covid-19 will be handled per the Board’s July action.
  • Staff was directed to intercede and resolve contest disputes.

The membership will be notified if any of the restrictions or revisions are further revised.

-KHSAA-

About the Kentucky High School Athletic Association
The Kentucky High School Athletic Association was organized in 1917 and is the agency designated by the Kentucky Department of Education to manage high school athletics in the Commonwealth. The Association is a voluntary nonprofit 501(c)3 organization made up of 280 member schools both public and non-public. The KHSAA awards 215 state championships to 51 teams and 164 individuals in 13 sports and 6 sport-activities, funds catastrophic insurance coverage for its more than 106,000 rostered member school student-athletes, provides coaching education and sports safety programs for more than 12,000 coaches, and licenses and facilitates the distribution of training material for over 4,000 contest officials.

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