KSHSAA releases detailed guidelines for returning to activities this fall

The Kansas State High School Activities Association on Wednesday released a set of guidelines for upcoming fall sports seasons, but many of the specifics will remain in the hands of local school districts and administrators.

The guidelines are broken up into two parts: a set of general considerations that could apply to all sports, and a more in-depth set of recommendations for each sport. KSHSAA describes the guidelines as a set of “best practices,” not as requirements, and suggests that each school organize its own team to “design, implement and oversee an infection risk mitigation strategy.”

Such teams are also advised to monitor ongoing changes in the pandemic and stay in close contact with local health departments and medical personnel “to review and evaluate strategies applicable to their unique facilities and activities.”

“Every school and every activity are different,” the documents read. “Certain mitigation strategies may be feasible in one school or for one activity, but not another.”

The sport-specific guidelines cover not only the fall sports — football, girls golf, girls tennis, boys and girls cross country, boys soccer, girls gymnastics and girls volleyball — but also a few other extracurricular activities such as debate, musical performances and scholar’s bowl. It includes advice on masks, social distancing and other precautions specific to each sport, such as driving range protocols for golf and disinfecting mats for gymnastics and spirit squads.

In the more general portion of the guidelines, KSHSAA outlines risk-mitigation measures in areas that can apply to all activities — hygiene, education and communication, screening, facility management, and what to do if there’s an illness.

“The risk of coronavirus transmission will still be present to some degree as school activities begin,” the document read. “Students and their families, along with school personnel, must recognize these risks and implement best practices to reasonably mitigate these risks.”

No specific start dates were mentioned in either document, but voluntary summer workouts and conditioning have been ongoing for the past few weeks in the Lawrence school district, and KSHSAA is expected to provide further guidance on when schools can start practice early next week.

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