BOSTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released new guidelines in a statement for youth and amateur sports Tuesday night.

“Sports can be an important part of a well-rounded educational experience for students, even during the current public health crisis,” the statement said. “Notwithstanding the risks associated with COVID-19, organized physical activity should be encouraged, within clear health and safety parameters.”

Most sports can be played in ways that minimize risks, the statement said, but that will mean inter-scholastic competitions may not look the same and could have modified rules.

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, or MIAA, consulted with medical advisers with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Protection to develop sport-specific modifications to meet guidelines.

Sports that the EEA lists as lower and moderate risk may be held during their normal seasons provided they meet MIAA standards.

For the fall season, higher-risk sports including football, cheer, and unified basketball will be practice only using the cohort method described in EEA guidelines, the statement said. Schools choosing to participate in practice only will have to complete a sports attestation compliance form and keep it on file.

High-risk sports in later seasons will continue to be evaluated.

All sports must adhere to the minimum modifications outlines on the EEA guidance to achieve Level 3 play, which is inter-team competition.

Guidelines are as follows:

Fall Season

- Dates: Starting Sept. 18. Sports included are golf, cross country, field hockey, soccer, gymnastics, girls volleyball, fall swimming/diving, football practice, cheer practice, and unified basketball practice (practice only using EEA modifications for football, cheer and unified basketball)


- Dates: TBA by MIAA. Sports included are winter gymnastics, boys and girls indoor track, ski, dance, winter swimming/diving, cheer, hockey, basketball, and wrestling.

Floating season

- Dates: TBA by MIAA. Sports unable to play in earlier seasons may engage in Level 3 play (competition) if allowed by the EEA guidelines. Schools offering only remote learning in the early fall may use this season for play that was missed during the remote schedule.


- Dates: TBA by MIAA. Girls golf, baseball, softball, tennis, boys volleyball, girls and boys lacrosse, track and field, and rugby.

All sports above have been conditionally approved for the fall season if they meet minimum EEA requirements.

High-risk sports in later seasons will continue to be evaluated.

“Red” districts based on the Department of Health map must postpone their entire season including practices until the floating season later in the year, according to the statement. Districts in “yellow” or “green” or “unshaded” based on the DPH metrics may similarly delay their season to the floating season. If a yellow, green, or unshaded district that is only offering remote learning to its high school students wants to participate in the regularly scheduled sports season, it has to be approved by the local school committee.

The MIAA Board of Directors will meet Wednesday to review the MIAA Task Force Recommendations in compliance with DESE and EEA guidelines.

Copyright 2020.  Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.


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