By JESSE SMITHEY
The TSSAA Board of Control has set the course for girls’ soccer and football, should the governor’s executive order be lifted on its expiration date (Aug. 29) or sooner.
For girls’ soccer, the board approved a contingency plan for the season to begin Sept. 7, extend the regular season by two weeks and the state championships be held Nov. 11-14.
In football, the board opted to go with the Option No. 2, which is the eight-game schedule (Season would start Sept. 18) with four weeks of playoffs. Only the top two teams in each region advance to the postseason.
HOWEVER, the board only approved Option No. 2 with the new Hybrid Plan caveats.
And what that means is: previously, under Option 2, the TSSAA would set each team’s region schedules and the onus would be on the coach of each team to fill out the rest of his eight-game regular season schedule.
Under the hybrid’s conditions, there is more scheduling flexibility — based on when/if the governor rescinds the executive order — to have a 10-game regular season and full five weeks of playoffs or have non-region contests rescheduled or moved into open dates if the season starts at a later date.
Translation: it’s a sliding scale during the month of August. The closer we get to the end of August in regards to the governor’s order still being in place, the closer we get to the original version of Option 2. The earlier the governor possibly rescinds his offers, the more games are played and a more full season is had.
Coaches won’t be in a mad scramble to try and cobble together a schedule.
Again, it’s all based upon when the order may be lifted.
“We’ve had some time to look at what is the least disruptive way to handle this situation,” said Childress, in regards to the current 2020 season schedule. “Trying to see if teams can keep their schedules and not cancel contracts.”
To learn more about the hybrid plan, the TSSAA released this video: https://youtu.be/LrNIPZvW4ck
Furthermore, the board passed a motion to agree that any school that encounters an “outbreak” of Covid-19 during the regular season will not suffer a win or loss. The team it was supposed to play in that regular season contest will get a win.
HOWEVER, any team that encounters an “outbreak” during the playoffs and is unable to play — as deemed such by its local school system’s guidelines — will have to forfeit its game and be eliminated from the playoff. Its opponent will receive a BYE in the playoff bracket and then advance.
The board also set 12 regulations for all member schools to follow in ALL SPORTS for the 2020-21 calendar school year.
The regulations the board set in place, unanimously on Wednesday, for its athletics contests and practices were as such and are effectively immediately:
- There are to be temperature checks for all players, coaches and team personnel prior to practices. If one has a temperature of 100.4 or greater, he or she must be sent home. And they can’t return until they’ve tested negative for Covid-19 or a physician has examined them and proved that Covid-19 is not the cause of the fever.
- Each week, no coach, player or team personnel will be able to compete or participate in their sport without a Covid-19 screening/questionnaire.
- No scrimmages or jamborees or 7-on-7 contests with other teams will be permitted. “If we’re going to have any semblance of a season, we need to mitigate risk as much as possible,” said Childress.
- Contests for players, coaches, personnel, fans, concession workers and the like must have temperature checks performed on them before entering the facility for the athletic contest. “It’s necessary and has to be done if we’re going to have any games, whatsoever,” said Childress.
- At each contest or school, Covid-19 symptoms lists must be posted and displayed prominently.
- Contests and locales where fans are in attendance, member schools are encouraged to limit fan attendance to a number that will allow for adequate physical and social distancing. “Schools should mark and designate seats to promote social distancing among spectators,” said Childress.
- Member schools will require that all fans wear facial coverings at all times while on site — except for fans 2 years old or younger — and maintain social distancing.
- Temperature checks and screening/questionnaires shall apply to member bands, cheerleaders and student organizations at the contests.
- Public address announcers are to make multiple announcements reminding those in attendance to use masks and use social distancing.
- Frequent cleaning and sanitation is encouraged.
- Concessions are discouraged. Or if they are done, to use social distancing to reduce crowding and fewer concession workers.
- Coaches must complete free NFHS Covid-19 online education course. Every coach in every school in every sport is required.