State offers new guidance on playing fall sports
The state released a new fall sports guidance which could open the door for high school sports, including football, to return sooner than expected.
"It's particularly important for their mental health. It's such an important activity for our families," said Gov. John Carney Tuesday, explaining what sports mean to the state’s student-athletes
The new guidance categorizes sports by risk, high, medium and low. Playing high-risk sports, such as football and wrestling, requires the athletes wearing a face mask at all times, or the organization or league must present a plan to the Division of Public Health modifying the sport to limit contact.
DPH Health Systems Protection Chief Jamie Macksays for high risk sports, community engagement will be needed to help determine the best type of mask to use.
"We're not being prescriptive with this, we're not describing how to do face coverings in football," said Mack. "We're looking for the facilities and tournaments, the community to help us figure out how to do that. And I know that some ideas for football have already been floated out there. A gaiter type of face covering that's able to go over the face mask and we might be able to adapt that to hockey, some of the other sports."
Mack calls mask wearing and following social distance guidelines during the game a total team effort.
"It's not just the players, but we need the coaches, we need the referees, we need the spectators to all take this seriously so that we can continue to enjoy sports and have kids out on the fields," said Mack.
All youth and adult amateur sports facilities and organizations must review, follow, and enforce the DPH guidelines. Mack notes again a collaborative effort is needed.
"We now are looking to both facilities that are holding these events as well as the team leaders the coaches to take responsibility for this," said Mack.
Facilities and organizations that do not follow DPH guidance for playing fall sports safely can be fined or closed. Any failure to comply with plans submitted to and approved by DPH could result in the plan rescinded and further enforcement.
Athletes playing medium and low risk sports may remove their face covering when active on a field or play. They have to wear it at all other times.
All athletes playing indoors must wear face coverings at all times.
Coaches and all staff must wear a face covering at all times including when addressing players or officials on or off the field, coaching during the game and during practices and meetings.
Referees and officials also must wear a face covering at all times, and they have to replace traditional whistles with a device that can be used to get everyone’s attention without removing their face covering.
The Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association has final say on whether high school sports may resume with the State School Board of Education’s approval. They both meet later this month.