WIAA and Board of Control Announce Safety Considerations for Winter Sports Season

Stevens Point (OnFocus) – The WIAA and its Board of Control announced safety guidelines for the winter sports  season, including COVID-19 basics and what schools must do if an athlete is expose or sick.

COVID Basics 

  • COVID is primarily transmitted by aerosol, but also by touching contaminated surfaces.

o Sports/training may cause heavier breathing which can increase spread of aerosol & virus transmission.

  • Student-athletes with high-risk conditions or household/close contacts with high-risk conditions may want to avoid and/or adjust participation to reduce risk of transmission. CDC list of risk: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/needextra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html 
  • Symptoms of COVID: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html 
  • The foundations of reducing risk should always be kept in mind:

 o Avoid participation and attendance if sick (fever and/or symptoms) – always discuss with your primary care provider if questions or concerns.

 o Wear a cloth mask or buff to reduce spread of your aerosol to others (the mask captures some of your aerosol and reduces transmission to other people).

 ▪ Do not wear medical/surgical masks or N95 masks for exercise as these can decrease airflow.

 ▪ Masks must be worn indoors according to the governor’s mandate while practicing or playing. Cloth masks are safe with exercise, they do not decrease oxygen levels, increase carbon dioxide levels, significantly restrict airflow, or cause heat illness. They will take time to get used to, as they can be uncomfortable and increase the perceived effort of exercise.

 ▪ Athletes may wear a mask while participating in exertion, but it is not required. Athletes not participating should wear a mask.

 ▪ Coaches and sideline personnel should wear masks at all times.

 o Social distancing of at least 6 feet when not participating (sideline, waiting for turn, etc.)

 ▪ Continue to train in smaller “pods” of athletes to reduce exposure risk.

 ▪ “Close contact” is based on the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation that 15+ minutes of close (within 6 feet) exposure to another increases risk of transmission. 

o Continue to emphasize hygiene. ▪ Hand sanitization/cleaning frequently (every time on and off field) – each athlete should be encouraged to have their own bottle. 

▪ Do not share water or food/snacks.

 ▪ Minimize shared equipment as much as possible and sanitize that equipment frequently. 

WHAT IF ATHLETE IS SICK OR EXPOSED 

  • Any student-athlete that has symptoms and/or fever should not participate in any activity (meetings, practice, competition) and begin self-quarantine immediately.

o Ensure that student-athletes with a positive COVID test (even if no symptoms) do not return to participation in training or competition until

 ▪ At least 10 days have passed since positive test; AND 

▪ No fever (fever is temp of 100.4°F or more) without the use of fever-reducing medicine for at least 24 hours; AND

 ▪ COVID symptoms (for example, cough, shortness of breath, etc.) have improved;

 ▪ Athletes may not return earlier if negative follow-up testing (cannot test out of isolation).

 o Ensure that student-athletes with probable COVID (symptoms of COVID – refer to symptom chart – but not tested), not be allowed to participate in any training or event until: 

▪ At least 10 days have passed since onset of symptoms; AND 

▪ No fever (fever is temp of 100.4°F or more) without the use of fever-reducing medicine for at least 24 hours; AND 

▪ COVID symptoms (for example, cough, shortness of breath, etc.) have improved.

  • Any student-athlete that has “close contact” (teammate, household, classroom, work, girlfriend/boyfriend, friend – someone with over 15 minutes of exposure within 6 feet) should begin self-quarantine immediately. 

o If the student-athlete that was exposed previously had COVID (with a hard copy positive test) in the last 3 months, then there is no need to continue self-quarantine restrictions. 

o If the student-athlete that was exposed previously had probable COVID (illness but not tested) in the last 3 months, then must continue with self-quarantine restrictions described below. 

o “Close contact” to an individual with a positive COVID test, student-athletes should not return until: 

▪ They have waited 14 days from last exposure to the infected person; AND 1. This is a longer period of time than positive COVID test time due to the combination of exposure, virus incubation and elimination from the body. This is similar to influenza, which is why if influenza is caught early enough flu medications may be helpful, but if influenza caught too late in the course then flu medications are not helpful. 

▪ Have no fever without use of fever-reducing medications; AND ▪ No COVID symptoms (for example, cough, shortness of breath, etc.) 

▪ Athletes may not return earlier if negative follow-up testing (cannot test out of quarantine). 1. In rare instances where the infected positive exposure is a family member with prolonged illness, then discussion and medical clearance with health care providers can be individually obtained and reviewed. 

o “Close exposure” to an individual with probable COVID (symptoms but not tested), student-athletes should not return until:

 ▪ They have waited 14 days from last exposure to the infected person; AND ▪ Have no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications; AND ▪ No COVID symptoms (for example, cough, shortness of breath, etc.). 

▪ If the individual with probable COVID is tested during the course of the quarantine: 1. The test comes back negative, then all individuals quarantined based on that exposure are free to return to participation if no fever and no symptoms. 2. The test comes back positive, then all individuals must follow the directions above (close contact). 

  • Athletes may decondition during their quarantine and may require additional time to get back to full speed.

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David Keech
Author: David Keech

David Keech is a math teacher in Wisconsin Rapids and public address announcer for Abbotsord High School. He officiates basketball, baseball, and softball in central Wisconsin. He has reported on amateur sports since 2011, known as 'KeechDaVoice.' David can be reached at [email protected]