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WIAA releases return-to-play guidelines for fall sports during coronavirus pandemic

By Nathan Joyce Seattle Times high school sports coordinator, 06/23/20, 11:15AM PDT

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The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association released guidelines Monday afternoon for restarting high-school sports in the fall.

The guidelines had many hands in helping create them as they take guidance from the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) and WIAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committees (SMACs) as well as “engaging” with Gov. Jay Inslee’s office, the State Department of Health and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The WIAA reiterated that it’s likely all regions of the state will not be competing equally this fall as different counties will be in different phases of the “Safe Start Washington” plan.

“There will also likely be variation in what sports and activities are allowed to be played and held,” the release said. “While we would typically have reservations regarding such inequities, the NFHS SMAC endorses the idea of returning students to school-based athletics and activities in any and all situations where it can be done safely and in alignment with reopening policies set forth by the local school district and OSPI framework.”

The WIAA went sport by sport to create guidelines as safety needs for cross country are quite different than for football.

Speaking of football, the guidelines are unclear when it will be able to return as it’s labeled a high-risk sport as it has “high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants.”

The WIAA said the low-risk sports (cross country, swimming and diving) can return in Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan. Moderate-risk sports (soccer, volleyball) can return in Phase 4.

To see all the guidelines, click here.

Nathan Joyce: njoyce@seattletimes.com; on Twitter: @NathanAJoyce