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08/21/20 – Restart of the Opportunity to Practice and Play Sports

August 21, 2020 2020-2021 News Releases

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This is being sent to all KHSAA member schools through the Principal and Athletic Director. It is also as a courtesy, copied to Superintendents.
 
Good afternoon. As most of you are aware, the KHSAA Board of Control voted yesterday to stay on course with allowing practice for fall sports to begin in the member schools beginning on August 24 followed by fall sports contests (other than Golf) being allowed on September 7 (September 11 for football). The vote was 16-2 to continue to accept Option 1 as the allowances for fall sports. To see the breakdown of that option, see the link at https://bit.ly/31haSAh.
 
As of today, there is no prevailing order governing practice for these sports of which we are aware. The current Commonwealth Youth Sports Order only impacts teams below middle school per guidance received in writing by the KHSAA staff on May 14 from the administration and to the knowledge, has not been revised.
 
The Board has spent several weeks in discussion regarding these issues in accordance with the Board’s policy development role according to statute and regulation.  In addition, as Commissioner, I have done the same, according to the duties of the Commissioner and Association as spelled out in statute and regulation. This discussion has included significant and continual interaction with the membership including Athletic Directors, Principals, and Superintendents, as well as near-constant interaction and cooperation with our Department of Education, the office of the Governor and Lt. Governor, and representatives of the legislative branch of our government.
 
BASIC ADDITIONAL NOTICE OF BOARD ACTION
  • Based on the public notice that each of you received from Mr. Angolia yesterday, (archived at https://khsaa.org/08-20-20-board-of-control-upholds-decision-to-begin-fall-sports-september-7/), let me relay several additional important points going forward. All concerned should be aware that guidelines on interscholastic contests are forthcoming and everything is subject to change very quickly until the pandemic is over:
    • There is NO obligation for any team, school, or school district to start practice on August 24. There is simply an allowance to begin legal practice. During these pandemic times, each school will need to make individual, local level decisions as you do each year.
    • In reality, our member schools decide each year what sports in which to participate, when practice begins, what is permitted and what is not, and the practice and contest parameters. As was pointed out one evening in a news conference interview after school and non-school day events are different than someone being expected to be in a school building for many hours. As such, each will need to evaluate their own local situation as well making  decisions and in fact, be ready to change those decisions if circumstances change
    • In most years, schools leave a lot of these decisions, particularly about practice, primarily to coaches. It is without a doubt that this year, these decisions must be more coordinated than ever between schools, school districts, and your local health department.
    • The first decisions you will make, of course, relate to your school(s) and the start of practice as well as competition. Keep a couple of things in mind. Again, there is no obligation to practice or play, simply an allowance. 
CONSULTATION WITH LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENT
  • As you prepare for the start of practice in 2020-2021, you will need to engage your local health department (as you do each day) to ensure they concur with your plans for your practice, particularly if beginning August 24 you are exceeding the bounds of the Segment 3 guidance. This relationship continues to be critical as between many counties and systems, the current impact of the virus varies greatly and changes almost daily.
  • It is recommended that activities remain in groups not to exceed fifty (50), however, if such practice exceeds that amount, guidance on entry and exit, social distancing in all cases remains critical and plans should be in conjunction with local health departments.
  • As you visit with the local health department, the following topics should be reviewed again and potentially revised from current activity.
    • No relaxation of expectations for social distancing where it is possible, continual hand washing, masks, and face coverings for all competitors not participating at that moment.
    • Where possible and practical, a practice should continue to be limited in total attendance and scope of work.
    • Practices are limited to 7.5 hours for the week of August  24 in all sports, with a strong recommendation that the practice each day not exceed 1.5 hours.
    • It is also strongly recommended that non-essential personnel not be permitted in these early practice sessions (parents, boosters, etc.).
    • Notification procedures should be reviewed wherein a local health department can communicate a change in local data that necessitates an alteration or cessation of activity.
INTERSCHOLASTIC PLAY
  • No scrimmages are permitted during the practice window prior to the first legal day for the start of contests.
  • A school may designate interscholastic play following the first allowable date for a contest (September 7 in Cross Country, Field Hockey, Soccer, and Volleyball, September 11 for football) as a scrimmage. That scrimmage would still count against the allowed number of total interscholastic contests and would be permitted until you have played your first contest. Do not report scrimmages or scrimmage results via the Riherds/KHSAA scoreboard.
  • We have already had inquiries from several districts who are considering not starting on the early dates, waiting until after the recommended date for the start of in-person learning, waiting until the actual start of in-person learning, and even, not participating in fall sports. Those are individual school and district decisions, determined after all stakeholder input, and allow for making the best decisions for your specific school or schools. There is no penalty for any of these delays or situations and schools remain eligible for the postseason.
  • The Board adopted procedures earlier in the summer and those were published to the KHSAA website, for any contest including a district contest, that is unable to be played for the purpose of calculating district seeding.
  • The KHSAA staff will be distributing a form where schools will be permitted to advise the office if you are in or out for a specific sport, up to and including postseason play, but such may be continually submitted if you revise your answers.
  • Specific contest guidance for interscholastic play beginning September 7 (September 11 for football) will be submitted to state government authorities not later than Wednesday, August 26 for hopeful rapid approval. As soon as it is approved, it will be distributed to the membership. Fundamentals of the document include the following:
    • Without a doubt, the guidance will contain both requirements and recommendations. Simply put, it is not possible to place all sports and all activities under the same microscope. And this is exacerbated by the differences in our schools and geographic areas. We also will be able to glean from other states with earlier starts including their successes and failures. The KHSAA and its member schools should expect:
      • The plan will reference in multiple places the KDE flagship Guidance Documents as well as other related documents relative to required sanitation. 
      •  Attendance restrictions as approved by the Local Health Department (or multiple departments if teams from different jurisdictions are involved in the competition). In the event that a local school and health department will have default guidance for each of the three segments of the season.
      • Initial proposals will include a planned gradual phasing in of options and restrictions. These restrictions will undoubtedly define essential attendees, recommended attendees, and non-essential attendees.
      • Guidance will necessarily address ancillary groups such as bands and cheer squads.
      • Seating configuration requirements.
      • Squad and sideline limits (for team sports).
      • Competitor entry limits for individual sports (i.e. starting the season with limits in Cross Country such as 70 per race with wave/staggered starts required increasing through the different stages of the season to allow for larger meets as the season goes on and procedures are refined.
      • Masks/Face coverings will be expected of all persons not actually competing at the time or officiating at that moment with full authority for closing down contests where this is not managed properly at the local school or contest site.
      • Playing rules changes and allowances for the season solely due to Covid-19.
      • Guidance for officials accepting assignments to officiate.
      • Guidance for fans attending the contest.
      • Guidance on concessions which likely will be highly congruent with restaurant guidance and include pre-packaged items only
      • The document could likely include references to the state mapping of Current Incidence rate posted by the Kentucky Department of Health at https://kygeonet.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/543ac64bc40445918cf8bc34dc40e334
FOOTBALL SPECIFIC ITEMS
  • As was stated in the rules clinic internal, attached splash guards inside the helmet will be permitted (provided they are not tinted).
  • Schools are also reminded that if you are uncomfortable with only three weeks of practice as was stated in news accounts on August 20, there is no obligation to play a contest of September 11. As has been repeatedly noticed to the member schools, if a game is canceled due to Covid-19 (which would be the case if the schedule made a coach feel he did not have adequate preparation time due to the pandemic), there is no forfeiture penalty to be applied.
  • A reminder that the practice sessions for football are, and have always been, highly regulated. The permitted schedule has not changed since its adoption in July. Schools starting later must utilize the same calendar to ensure compliance with the heat acclimatization rules, practice, and contact acclimation and contact phasing requirements. That schedule is as follows for those choosing to begin practice on August 24:
    • Aug 24 (First Organized  Practice)
    • 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)

DANCE and COMPETITIVE CHEER

  • The Board also moved the Competitive Cheer and Dance championships until after January 1.
  • As such, those groups continue to remain in Segment 3 restrictions, with no “stunting” allowed at this time.
  • At the Board ‘s next meeting, a date for the start of work beyond Segment 3 guidance will be discussed based on current data.
  • Any tryouts conducted at this time cannot include stunting.

OTHER SPORTS

  • Guidance is not revised on non-fall sports and sport-activities.
  • It continues to be a strong recommendation that on-campus winter and spring sports activity (including basketball and wrestling and all other non-fall sports) cease until after the start of the school year if not until the start of the fall sports competitions.
  • Once the school year begins, activity is closely regulated by Bylaw 23.
  • Right now, even one against one play is not permitted and feedback we are receiving is that until they can do more, they will not be disadvantaged by shutting things down.
CONCLUSION
There are challenging times for all of us. We take great pride as well as great concern with the responsibility to permit opportunities for the more than 80,000 students that appear on KHSAA rosters.  We also know we are at a tough confluence of two health crises, the psychological harm that has been done to students who are struggling to work through this pandemic, and the epidemiological concerns of all of us regarding this virus during the pandemic and potential long-term consequences that are yet unknown and won’t be know for many years. Both have been critically important to review during these times.
 
​I for one and the entire staff of the association continue to work tirelessly as always to perform these vital functions for our schools.  Like interim Commissioner Kevin Brown has stated on many occasions during Superintendent meetings,  this crazy business of education is a family type business and educators are a large family. Family members don’t always agree. But I have found that focusing on the students, especially in crisis times, always seems to take us to the right sport.
 
​I wish each of you well and stay safe.​

-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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