WIAA Announces General Safety Considerations for Spring Sports

WIAA Spring Sports Safety Recommendations

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.

WBCA Girls  Basketball All-State Teams D 1,2,3,4,5

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR PRACTICES

Pre-Workout/Pre-Contest Screening:

  • Athletes and coaches should check their temperature at home before attending practices or games. If a student-athlete or a coaching staff member has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or above, they should not attend practices or games.
  • What if athlete is sick or exposed? – See above section.
  • A record should be kept of all individuals present at team activities.
  • Vulnerable individuals can resume public interactions, but should practice social distancing, minimizing exposure to social settings where distancing may not be practical, unless precautionary measures are observed.

Complete 2020-21 WIAA Return to Spring Sports Considerations Document

COVID-19 Coach:

  • Designate a coach to be responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns. 
  • All coaches, staff, officials, and families should know who this person is and how to contact them.
  • Train coaches, officials, and staff on all safety protocols. Conduct training virtually, or ensure that social distancing is maintained during training.

Social distancing:

  • Practice – Coaches are responsible for ensuring social distancing is maintained between players as much as possible. This means additional spacing between players while playing, chatting, changing drills so that players remain spaced out, and no congregating of players while waiting a turn. Workouts should be conducted in ‘pods’ of students, with the same 5-10 students always working out together. This ensures more limited exposure if someone develops an infection.
  • Hydration – All students shall bring their own water bottle. Water bottles must not be shared.

o Due to the importance of hydration during practice, athletes should not be allowed to work out if they do not have access to their own water bottle.

o Water cows, water trough, water fountains, etc. should not be utilized.

○ Water refill stations should be cleaned/disinfected frequently.

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR EVENTS

WIAA Event Accountability:

  • When arriving at the venue for a contest, coaches will exchange a tracing sheet and verification form signed by the coach and athletic director acknowledging that the students have been pre-screened and the tracing sheet is accurate.
  • When departing for the contest, coaches take their tracing sheet and verification form signed by the coach and athletic director acknowledging the tracing sheet’s accuracy. If a coach cannot, or does not produce the tracing sheet when verification is requested, it shall be reported to the WIAA office by the opposing coach.
  • Failure to produce the verification form and/or the tracing sheet will result in a forfeit.

Venue

  • Review Air Circulation/Filter System – Work with maintenance staff to ensure that venues meet proper circulation requirements.
  • COVID-19 Signage at entrances and throughout each venue – i.e. spectator flow with designated entrance/exit areas with one-way traffic, reminders of not to attend if feeling ill, masking, social distancing, of hygiene habits, etc.
  • Identify commonly touched areas/items, such as water refill stations, door handles, handrails, etc. and develop a risk minimization/sanitization plan for these areas.
  • Sanitizing Stations – Consider placing sanitization products in specific areas, such as scorer’s tables, team benches, ticket sales, etc.
  • Parking/Drop-Off/Pick-Up Areas – Coordinate these areas to allow for social distancing before, during and after events.
  • Restroom Access – Establish protocols to ensure restroom capacity is limited and adheres to social distancing guidelines.
  • Booster Club/Sponsor/Vendor Sales – Consider eliminating to reduce fan congestion.
  • Concession Sales – Consider eliminating concession sales completely and/or create seating arrangements to allow for social distancing, cashless transactions, establish a plan per the FDA and CDC guidelines.

Staff

  • Changes to Policies/Procedure Handbooks – Review current policies and procedures, edit as needed and communicate changes.
  • Review Emergency Action Plan with Event Staff – Review EAP, edit as needed and communicate changes.
  • Training and Education of Staff and Event Personnel – Provide staff with necessary training on sanitization protocols and other COVID-related items for event.
  • COVID-19 Coach – Designate a staff member to be responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns. All coaches, staff, officials, and families should know who this person is and how to contact them.
  • Crowd Control Staffing Needs – Ensure adequate staffing to address event needs with additional attention to COVIDrelated items.
  • Minimize the number of personnel on the sidelines.

Participants

  • Eliminate any shared water stations – Require all participants to bring their own water.
  • Player benches and coaching boxes – Use paint or tape as a guide to help maintain social distancing on the sideline for athletes and coaches. Encourage teams to clean up their respective benches before leaving the venue.
  • Mask/facial covering on sideline for coaches and athletes not participating, especially if not able to maintain full social distancing.

Spectators

  • Follow county guidelines on limiting spectators.
  • Face covering requirements – Event Personnel, Media, Spectators – consider having masks available to purchase or to provide for those who may have forgotten to bring one.
  • Ticket sales – If unable to eliminate on-site sales, consider steps to establish social distancing and provide a sanitization station.
  • Pedestrian flow – Create protocols and signage to address ingress and egress areas and high traffic areas to avoid congestion. Consider using stanchions, tape or paint as a guide and communicate in advance.
  • Seating – Establish a procedure for all indoor and outdoor venues that allows for social distancing guidelines. The number of spectators allowed must be in accordance with state/local regulations for gathering sizes.

Concessions

  • If opening/allowing, post signage at stand for patrons to maintain social distancing of 6’ between parties near food stand.
  • Maintain a sanitize solution for wiping cloths during operations and increase cleaning/sanitizing frequency – especially high-contact surfaces such as equipment, utensils and countertops.
  • Discontinue self-service operations for the public such as drink stations, condiment trays, cup/napkin/utensil dispensers and other amenities to help maintain infection control.
  • Consider the use of fans or open (screened) windows to improve air circulation in smaller indoor stands.
  • Use single-use condiment packets and avoid using shared condiment containers if possible.
  • Consider barriers such as Plexiglass between employees and customers if practical.

Other

  • Advance messaging to teams, spectators, media – Visiting school teams and spectators are expected to comply with the host school strategies for COVID risk mitigation.

○ Provide written notice to all attendees, outlining procedures for the event.

○ Provide PA announcements to reinforce key site requirements and reminders of guidelines.

  • Social distancing requirements – Teams, event personnel, media, spectators – Review and communicate plans to all
  • Face covering requirements – Event personnel, media, spectators – Review and communicate plans to all.
  • Livestream options for spectators who cannot attend in person – Review and communicate plans to all, consider camera location(s).
  • Seating capacity/configuration – Teams, spectators, media, medical, event personnel. Consider tape or paint as a guide, communicate in advance and create signage.
  • Designate Event Management team – Includes a health professional. This group has the authority to modify, restrict, postpone or cancel the event based on public health risk or other factors.
  • Screening of participants, spectators, event personnel, event officials, teams, media – Communicate pre-screening expectations for all attendees.

All attendees should check their temperature at home before attending an event. If any attendee has a temperature

of 100.4 degrees or above, or if they have any symptoms, they should not attend the event.

  • Create communication plan – Attendees can receive an emergency notification, if necessary. Think about how you will address and communicate a positive COVID test of an attendee before, during or after the event.
  • Attendees – Consider grouping people into tiers from essential to non-essential and decide which tiers will be allowed at an event:
  1. Tier 1 (Essential): Athletes, coaches, officials, event staff, medical staff, security
  2. Tier 2 (Preferred): Media
  3. Tier 3 (Non-essential): Spectators, vendors

*Only Tier 1 and 2 personnel will be allowed to attend events until state/local health departments lift restrictions on mass gatherings.

  • Athletic Training services – As health-care professionals, athletic trainers can take lead roles in developing and implementing infection control policy throughout the school. School administrators should partner with athletic trainers to develop and implement infection control policy throughout the school.
  • Transportation to events – Schools must consider social distancing requirements when scheduling contests and events for the fall. Masking and social distancing (as required by state or local health departments) will need to be maintained on buses/vans. Thus, multiple buses/vans and/or parental/guardian transportation will likely be needed.

Additional information can be found in The University of Southern Mississippi National Center for Spectator Sports Safety

and Security (NCS4) COVID-19 Considerations for Sport and Entertainment Venues and Events (click to view)

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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]