Serving Kentucky's Schools and Student Athletes Since 1917

10/08/21- Changes in COVID-19 RTA/RTP Implemented Per SMAC Guidance

October 8, 2021 2021-2022 News Releases


As they have done since the start of the pandemic, the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) composed of Kentucky Medical Association (KMA) member doctors has held multiple special meetings to continually review the Return to Play Guidance and Recommendations (RTA/RTP). As a result of those continued meetings and review of current and evolving literature, changes have been made to the RTA/RTP and RTA/RTP form and those changes are located at For districts that have summarily adopted the “KHSAA” recommendations, these changes should be considered immediate.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, this group has been passionate advocates for the students being involved in sport due to the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual benefits, but also for safety in mitigating the spread of the virus. They are also keenly aware of the first priority of nearly everyone in the education community, that being a full year of in-person instruction and doing nothing to purposely jeopardize that objective.

The RTA/RTP protocol has been in place since July of 2020 when it was recommended by the SMAC to the KHSAA Board of Control and the six-day gradual return to play requirement adopted. Since that time, this group and hundreds of other medical groups around the country have studied data and evaluated the results to ensure the delicate balance between the need for athletics and any risks that participation presents.

Based on the most recent data, substantial changes have been made in the protocol including:

  • The policy now allows athletes in low cardiopulmonary demand sports (specifically, Golf, Archery, Bass Fishing, Bowling, Esports, Rifle Marksmanship, Trap Shooting) can now be handled in a somewhat different manner than the other sports and sport-activities. This will allow the start of the six-day return to play period prior to the end of the isolation period IF AND ONLY IF recommended by the treating physician and if the athlete was asymptomatic or had mild symptoms. This means that some of the RTA/RTP days in those sports or activities could actually run concurrently with days in isolation at the provider’s discretion.
  • The policy also allows the athlete in the other sports or activities to have the RTA/RTP period shortened  IF AND ONLY IF recommended by the treating physician and if the athlete was asymptomatic or had mild symptoms
  • In addition, requested clarifications have been made as to who should supervise the RTA/RTP period as well as clearing up other questions that have arisen and adapting the RTA/RTP forms to conform.

We are thankful for their continued guidance as you work with your athletes to ensure the proper RTA/RTP period is managed appropriately to balance the health issues from known positive cases with the intense desire to participate in sports and activities. This information should be helpful in helping you ensure that local policies, developed in conjunction with your local and state health authorities, are accurate and up to date.

The revised form is located at the KHSAA website at

Thanks to these members of KMA for their continued work on behalf of your students and to each of you for your continued efforts during these trying times.

One valuable piece that came to light during this research was a great article from the American Academy of Pediatrics that also may help with questions you receive about what to do with your athletes during that positive test period. Please see the entire article at


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 286 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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