The WIAA has given the green light to area high schools for winter sports after releasing some COVID-19 guidelines following a WIAA Board of Control meeting on Friday, Oct. 9.
Those sports — wrestling, gymnastics, boys’ basketball, girls’ basketball and boys’ swimming — will look a lot different, however, with those recommended changes.
The WIAA is advising teams to bring a contact tracing sheet to all games or meets with participants’ names, phone numbers, information on their body temperature and any potential COVID-19 symptoms. A coach or athletic director will then have to sign a verification of the tracing sheet.
Social distancing of at least six feet apart is advised for players and coaches on the bench. Athletes and coaches not directly involved with competition and coaches and players on the bench are required to wear cloth masks, rather than surgical N95 masks, which reduce air flow, according to a WIAA news release on Friday, Oct. 9.
“Cloth masks are safe with exercise, they do not decrease oxygen levels, increase carbon dioxide levels, significantly restrict airflow or cause heat illness,” the guidelines state. “They will take time to get used to, as they can be uncomfortable and increase the perceived effort of exercise.”
The WIAA will not require gymnasts to wear masks during events because they could slip and obscure the athlete’s vision. Wrestlers are asked to avoid neck gaiters due to the choking risk.
According to the WIAA, a violation of the state’s mandated state mask order could result in a $200 fine.
For wrestling, grapplers are advised to bring their own disinfecting wipes, towel and athletic tape, and disinfect their hands, arms and legs. Coaches are advised to sanitize shared equipment before and after each practice or match. Amd daily cleaning and disinfection with EPA-disinfectants are recommended.
Other wrestling suggestions include limiting matches to two-team dual meets (eliminating weekend and holiday multi-team tournaments) and spacing competitions to be six to seven days apart, including a break of five to seven days after Christmas.
If a student-athlete tests positive for COVID-19, the WIAA advises that person must sit out 10 days after a positive test, and must be fever-free, with a temperature less than 100.4 without fever-reducing medicine or COVID-19 symptoms like cough or shortness of breath to return.
If an athlete has close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, they are
advised not to return for 14 days from the exposure, and have no fever or COVID-19 symptoms.
The WIAA recommends practice be conducted in pods or groups of five to 10 players, with student-athletes bringing their own water bottles, towels and bags and not sharing food and snacks.
Gymnasts are encouraged to have their own athletic tape and chalk, and are encouraged to have their own disinfecting wipes and disinfect each apparatus before a routine. During meets, coaches are advised to sanitize equipment before and after each use. Schools are asked to remove chalk bowls for uneven bar routines.
For games, the WIAA advises cutting halftime cheer and dance performances, and for schools to follow local health department guidelines on attendance and gathering policies.
In Dane County, crowds indoors are limited to 10 or less and outdoors gatherings are limited to 25 or less.
The WIAA advises all spectators should be required to wear facemasks and follow the state mask mandate.
Some schools playing football across the state this fall are allowing only parents, players, coaches, event staff and athletic trainers and media into games; not students. Based on county health guidelines, the WIAA said some schools may want to limit attendance to only necessary personnel like players, coaches, trainers and medical staff.
For basketball games, the game ball will be given to officials, so they can sanitize it before the game, during timeouts and at the end of halves. The WIAA recommends eliminating handshakes before and after games and social distancing during the National Anthem. Social distancing in huddles during timeouts is also advised.
For hockey games, the WIAA recommends sanitizing pucks, with hockey helmets, sticks and equipment not to be shared.
Hockey and boys swimming teams are being advised to eliminate the use of locker rooms and come dressed for games and meets. High schools with pools are advised to increase the sanitation chlorine level closer to 2.0 parts-per-million.