On Tuesday, Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order 74, which extends COVID-19 safety restrictions at school-sponsored sporting events, including high school basketball.
These restrictions were set to expire on Tuesday, but will now be extended through February 27th, barring a change in the public health situation. The new Executive Order says that schools can continue to host sporting events as long as they are following the TSSAA guidelines, and that these provisions apply to both games and practices.
TSSAA said in a release you can read on our website that the updated guidelines will allow grandparents of competing student-athletes to attend games and/or practices, as well as school faculty members. Those groups join the student-athletes themselves; their coaches and other team staff members; athletic officials; game, school and facility administrators; parents, guardians and other immediate household members; media and athletic scouting personnel attending in their professional capacities; and first responders.
In the release, TSSAA says that it spoke with the governor’s office about the possibility of allowing cheerleaders and dance team members to return to the gym, but that “the amended Order maintains the temporary suspension of cheerleading and dance at contests,” and that the decision was based upon the most up-to-date medical and CDC information and guidance available regarding the spread of COVID-19.
In addition to restricting who can enter the gym, the TSSAA says that pre-entry temperature checks will continue, masks will be required and social distancing as well.
The Order issued Tuesday also encourages houses of worship to continue utilizing virtual or online services, instead of holding in-person services.
The Order also encourages tennesseeans to work from home whenever possible and encourages employers to equip, encourage and allow employees to work remotely.
TSSAA concluded its statement by saying that all of the COVID-19 Guidelines that were in effect for Fall sports apply to Winter and Spring sports. This means that there can be no scrimmages, jamborees, play days, or practices against other teams. This also includes football Spring Practice.
(TSSAA press release) TSSAA wishes to remind every member school that with the Governor’s announcement today we are still under the Governor’s Order No. 70 as it pertains to the individuals who are allowed to attend athletic contests. Please keep in mind that these are minimum standards and can be more restrictive depending on the circumstances. For instance, the restrictions in place at the State Bowling Tournament to be held this week, which permits only bowlers and coaches to be present in the bowling center during competition, will remain in place.
Those individuals allowed to attend must still have their temperature checked, wear a mask, and practice social distancing the entire game. Those who fail to do so are hurting all of our student-athletes and their possibility of completing the season. The Order was scheduled to expire on January 19th at 11:59 p.m. but has been extended by the Governor through February 27, 2021.
It is our understanding that the definition of a “household” has now been extended to include grandparents. This will allow them to attend contests if their grandchild is participating. School faculty members and staff may also attend.
TSSAA inquired about allowing Cheerleaders and Dance Teams to participate, but the amended Order maintains the temporary suspension of cheerleading and dance at contests. Our understanding from the Governor’s Office is that this provision was a risk-based decision at this critical time based on the best medical and CDC information and guidance available regarding the spread of COVID-19 primarily through respiratory droplets, with cheerleading posing a particularly high degree of risk because it involves projected voices within a confined indoor space for an extended period of time.
The “COVID-19 Sport Specific Modifications” for Spring Sports will be added to the guidelines on the website sometime this week. Please go to the COVID-19 Return to Play link and click on the COVID-19 Sports Regulations and Rules Modifications in order to access this information. It is vital that all coaches are aware and adhere to these modifications.
It must also be noted that all of the COVID-19 Guidelines that were in effect for Fall sports apply to Winter and Spring sports. This includes the fact that there can be no scrimmages, jamborees, play days, or practices against another team. This also includes football Spring Practice.