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Following Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s announcement on Tuesday that he will sign Executive Order No. 55, part of which will allow schools to return to contact sports, TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress said teams must embrace COVID-19 regulations set by the organizations Board of Control on July 22.

“We appreciate being able to work with Gov. Lee and his staff on this,” Childress said. “I am pleased that we were able to develop some very specific guidelines for every sport that will allow our kids to get out on their fields and fully participate in football and girls’ soccer this fall.

“Children across the state are counting on us – school administrators and coaches – to proceed with practices and competitions safely while being very mindful of the requirements and modifications that we have put in place. Our return to play is a partnership, and it’s important for everyone to do their part.”

Once the order is signed, contact may take place in girls’ soccer practice. The date of first contest remains as originally scheduled, Aug. 17, with the state championships to be held Oct. 28-31 in Murfreesboro.

Football teams were allowed to begin heat acclimatization on July 20. Each athlete must complete heat acclimatization (2 days of helmets only, 3 days in helmets and shoulder pads) before practicing in full equipment, which is now permitted.

No changes to the 2020 football schedule, regular season or otherwise, will be made. The contingency plan for football passed by the Board of Control last week stated that if contact practice could resume prior to Aug. 4, then no contests would be rescheduled. Therefore, the Date of First Contest for football remains as Aug. 21 with state championships Dec. 3-5 in Cookeville.

“This is good news for many kids and their families,” Childress said, “but the reality is that the virus will continue to be with us and we have to be smart about taming the spread. Every adult and every participant in every sport must do their part and follow the guidelines set forth by TSSAA and the Governor’s office to help mitigate these risks.”

TSSAA COVID-19 Regulations

1. Temperature checks are required for all coaches, players, and team personnel prior to every practice. Anyone whose temperature measures 100.4 or greater must be sent home immediately and may not return to participation until he/she provides documentation that they have tested negative for COVID-19 or obtained a medical evaluation by a physician verifying that COVID-19 is not the cause of his/her fever.

2. No coach, player, or team personnel may participate in practice or a contest without first completing appropriate COVID-19 screening. Persons should not participate while ill. If the answer is “YES” to any of the following questions, the coach, player, or team personnel may not participate until obtaining an evaluation by a medical provider verifying his/her fitness to safely do so:

• Have you had any of the following symptoms in the past 7 days?

• Fever

• Cough

• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

• Shaking chills

• Chest pain, pressure, or tightness with exercise

• Fatigue or difficulty with exercise

• Racing heart rate

• Unusual dizziness

• Loss of taste or smell

• Sore throat

• Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

• Unusual rash or painful discoloration of fingers or toes

• Do you have moderate to severe asthma, a heart condition, diabetes, chronic kidney or liver disease, or take medication or have a medical condition that weakens your immune system?

• Have you or a family/household member been diagnosed with or tested positive for COVID-19 infection or been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the past 14 days?

3. No scrimmages, jamborees, 7-on-7 practice, or other types of practice with other teams is permitted.

4. At contests all coaches, players, team personnel, officials, administrators, and fans must have their temperatures checked before entering the facility. No one whose temperature measures 100.4 or greater may be admitted.

5. At each contest the following symptom checklist shall be posted prominently at the spectator entrance(s) instructing that anyone who is experiencing any of these symptoms during the preceding 7 days must not be admitted:

• Fever

• Cough

• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

• Shaking chills

• Chest pain, pressure, or tightness with exercise

• Fatigue or difficulty with exercise

• Racing heart rate

• Unusual dizziness

• Loss of taste or smell

• Sore throat

• Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

• Unusual rash or painful discoloration of fingers or toes

6. At contests in localities where fan attendance is permitted, member schools are encouraged to limit fan attendance to a number that will allow adequate social distancing (e.g., 1/4 to 1/3 of typical seating capacity, depending on the characteristics of the particular venue) and should mark/designate bleachers or seats in order to promote social distancing among spectators.

7. Member schools will require that all fans wear facial coverings at all times while onsite (except children under age 2) and maintain social distancing (six feet, or the equivalent of two empty seats between themselves and other fans) from anyone other than those living in the same household.

8. The temperature check and questionnaire requirements of Items 1 and 2 above, as well as the social distancing requirement of Item 7, shall also apply to members of a school band or pep band, cheerleaders, or other similar student groups attending a contest in a supporting role. Due to the potential increased risk of virus transmission during certain activities, the use of school bands at contests is discouraged. If the band is present, limit to a halftime performance or relocate the band from the standsto other available areas away from crowds and increase the amount of physical distance between band members. Increase the amount of physical distance between cheerleaders as well as between cheerleaders and other persons if projected voices are to be used.

9. If a public address system is in use for a contest, the host school will make public service announcements at various times during the contest to remind those in attendance to use masks and maintain physical distancing.

10. The host school is responsible for providing staff to engage in frequent cleaning and sanitizing of restroom facilities during contests.

11. Concession stands are discouraged because they tend to invite gatherings of people in close quarters. If a member school chooses to operate a concession stand at a contest, signage or other appropriate markings must be in place to encourage customers to maintain physical distancing while standing in line.

All concession stand workers must wear facial coverings and must maintain as much physical distance as possible in the confines of the concession stand.

12. All coaches must complete the free NFHS online course “COVID-19 for Coaches and Administrators” before the first contest.

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