VHSL announces recommended guidelines for reopening of sports and activities

Working in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Virginia Department of Education (DOE), the VHSL Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) has developed a list of recommended guidelines for school divisions as they prepare for the safe reopening of high school sports and activities. 

“These VHSL guidelines are recommended for use as school divisions develop their own specific requirements for the Phase II COVID Mitigation Health Plans for Public Schools,” said VHSL Executive Director Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun. “SMAC worked closely with VDH to ensure that these recommended guidelines will offer guidance to local school divisions and superintendents reopening plans. Our SMAC committee of leading health experts has put together an invaluable tool to assist our school divisions in developing those plans.” 

Phase 3 guidelines are yet to be determined. Highlights of the guidelines in Phase 2 include the following:

  • Administrators and coaches must emphasize the need for all coaches and participants who have signs or symptoms of illness to stay home when ill to decrease risk of viral transmission. 

  • Adequate cleaning schedules should be created and implemented for all athletic facilities. VDH recommends a minimum of every 2 hours and disinfect after every use of any shared equipment. 

  • Indoor practices/activities may occur if at least 10 feet of physical distance can be maintained by all persons (including participants, coaches, etc.) at all times. The total number of attendees (including participants, coaches, etc.) cannot exceed the lesser of 30 percent of the occupancy load of the room in which the activity is being held or 50 persons. No spectators allowed during practices. 

  • Outdoor practices/activities are allowable if at least 10 feet of physical distance can be maintained by all persons (including participants, coaches, etc.) at all times. The total number of attendees (including participants, coaches, etc.) cannot exceed the lesser of 50 percent of the occupancy load of the venue or 50 persons. 

  • Workouts should be conducted in “pods” of students/coaches with the same 5-10 students/coaches working out together weekly to limit overall exposure. Smaller pods can be utilized for weight training. 

  • Plan for daily health screening questions of staff and students. 

  • State, local or school district guidelines for cloth face coverings should be strictly followed. 

  • All students must bring their own water bottle. 

  • There should be no shared athletic equipment (towels, clothing, shoes, or sports specific equipment) between students. 

  • Physical contact such as high-fives, fist bumps, and hugs should not be allowed. Indoor events may occur if at least 10 feet of physical distance can be maintained by all participants at all times and all shared items can be disinfected between uses. The total number of attendees (including participants, coaches, etc.) cannot exceed the lesser of 30 percent of the occupancy load of the room in which the activity is being held or 50 persons. No spectators allowed. 

  • Outdoor events are allowable if at least 10 feet of physical distance can be maintained by all attendees (including participants, coaches, etc.) cannot exceed the lesser of 50 percent of the occupancy load of the venue or 50 persons. No spectators allowed. 

The entire nine-page set of Phase 2 guidelines may be read here