On Friday, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association issued a release outlining the steps needed for returning to high school sports and activities in the state.
The memo was created in partnership with the Washington Schools Risk Management Pool and Clear Risk after conversations with the Governor’s Office and Washington Department of Health. It laid out a five-step plan for resumption of athletics.
- Governor to recommend return to play;
- DOH to provide guidance on required steps to return to play;
- Risk management to review any new recommendation in response to Governor and DOH;
- School leadership to commit to play;
- WIAA Executive Board to review current schedule with new recommendations.
Under the school leadership point, in its memo the WIAA said most administrators would consider returning to play once students are able to return to school even in a hybrid model. However, it also noted that coaches under collective bargaining agreements would also need to support return to play.
The memo said returning to play will have to be a collaborative effort from multiple angles.
“It is important that everyone from government officials, to local school leadership, work together to create an environment for education-based athletics to return,” it read. “Not only will that provide the safest path to competition, it is the only way to allow equitable opportunities for students in all sports around the state.”
In late August, a group of student-athletes, led by several prominent football players on the west side of the state, petitioned the WIAA and the governor’s office to allow a return to fall sports and held a rally in Olympia on Sept. 3 in support of the petition.
The WIAA staff and Executive Board said it will continue to develop a creative and flexible framework for practice and competition to resume as safely as possible.
The Governor’s Office, DOH and OSPI stated they would periodically review guidelines as more information became available which could change the current recommendation of no extra-curricular activities if schools are providing primarily remote learning.
The board said it would consider several factors pending a change in guidance from the state government agencies, including the benefits of a late fall season and impact it would have on all sports, not just football.
“The WIAA fully understands the desire to return to play,” the release said. “Education-based activities is a passion for those in our office as well as for athletic directors and coaches around the state. However, the WIAA’s top priority is the health and safety of student-participants while offering equitable opportunities to all students.”
The full set of guidelines can be found at https://mailchi.mp/wiaa/process-for-returning-to-sports-and-activities.