The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association met Wednesday morning to review recommendations on an updated calendar for school sports.
The guidelines proposed by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the MIAA's COVID-19 Task Force call for no competitive school football, cheerleading or unified basketball this fall.
Districts located in communities designated by the state as high-risk, based on having more than eight cases of coronavirus per 100,000 residents, must postpone their fall sports seasons altogether, since they will be learning remotely at the start of the year, according to the proposal.
The recommendations include the addition of a fourth "floating" season from late February to April 5 for sports that can't be played in the fall because of remote learning.
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The MIAA's board of directors discussed several recommendations Wednesday from its COVID-19 Task Force and voted to change the start date for the fall season to Sept. 18 for practices. The board also approved the recommendation calling for a fourth sports season.
The new guidelines allow low- and moderate-risk sports, like soccer, fall swimming and cross-country, to go ahead with their seasons this fall.
But football, cheerleading and unified basketball are classified by the state as high risk, so they can only hold practices, not take part in games, and the practices must follow established social distancing guidelines.
There are other high-risk sports under the state's classification set for winter and spring, like basketball, hockey and wrestling. Those will be evaluated based on coronavirus conditions closer to the start of their seasons, according to the draft schedule.
The Massachusetts community-based COVID-19 risk levels have been proposed as a way for school districts to determine if they should begin the year with remote learning or not.
The new guidelines would require districts in the highest risk level, red, to postpone their seasons and not hold practices. The proposal would also require any district that isn't in the red, but chose to keep high school students home, to have the sports season approved by its school committee.
A timeline would be developed to determine when, relative to the start of the sports season, school districts will be judged to be red, high-risk communities, according to the guidelines.
"The health and safety of our school communities must remain the top priority, and we recognize that any plan for athletic opportunities must adapt to evolving public guidance," said the document, from MIAA and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Massachusetts on Monday released new guidance on what youth and adult amateur sports activities will be allowed in this phase of the state's reopening plan. The MIAA had been in wait-and-see mode for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education guidance.