High School Fall Sports Seasons

SDHSAA Board of Directors Votes In Favor of Fall Sports Season


The South Dakota High School Activities Association’s (SDHSAA) board of directors recently voted that South Dakota’s high school fall sports season will start on time. The Milbank School District plans to move forward with fall activities following the guidelines the SDHSAA sent out.
“We plan to start the year allowing fans to attend the contests while encouraging social distancing and the use of masks,” said Ryan Scoular, Milbank’s athletic director. “Fan attendance will be a fluid situation throughout the year, depending on the number of active COVID-19 cases in our community.”
The SDHSAA does not recommend schools host tournaments, so Milbank cancelled two volleyball tournaments that were on the schedule, according to Scoular. One was a varsity event, and the other a junior high jamboree.
A 30-member task force made safety recommendations during a video conference with the board of directors. The task force features medical professionals and teachers who covered the fall sports of golf, tennis, soccer, cheer, competitive dance, football and volleyball. They also laid out recommendations for the fall arts activities of journalism, all-state chorus, orchestra and Oral Interp.
No handshakes, high fives, or awards ceremonies allowed are just a few of the recommendations for fall high school activities approved last Wednesday by the SDHSAA’s board of directors. The full 17-page document detailing the recommendations of the task force and rule modifications for each sport can be found at www.sdhsaa.com.
The task force set mandatory, optional, and impermissible rule changes for each sport and activity. They also offered overall principles for safety, keeping students active, screening procedures, a protocol for positive cases, new SDHSAA polices in the event of a forfeit or no contest, and benchmarks for re-evaluating the recommendations and guidelines for fan attendance.
The task force split each activity into low contact/risk, moderate contact/risk, and high contact/risk categories. Golf, tennis, and cross country fit in the low-risk group; soccer, football and volleyball, moderate risk, and competitive cheer and dance, high risk. Journalism and Oral Interp are low risk, while all-state chorus and orchestra are high risk.
The task force had further recommendations for arts activities. “Due to the nature of the event (nearly 1,100 students from over 150 different schools), the task force recommends that SDHSAA staff further consider the all-state chorus and orchestra concert, and examine the pending results of the NFHS aerosol study, and decide at a later date.”
The remaining fall season of journalism and Oral Interp are to continue on the recommendation of the task force. However, SDHSAA staff will evaluate the need for the events to be held online because of the number of students and the number of communities represented.
The task force’s report also contains a COVID-19 participant and coach monitoring form. It’s a checklist that shows eight symptoms that may prevent a player or coach from participating.
If a player, coach, or official tests positive for COVID-19, a return to play form must be completed. The form asks for 10 days to pass after symptoms appear, and then disappear.
Athletes, with approval from their doctor, are then allowed to return to play. Doctors may recommend that athletes go through a minimum of seven days of increasing training activity before participating again.
The task force also created a four-tier system to guide schools on fan attendance. Tier 1 is open attendance for communities with steady or decreasing cases. At tier 2, only the parents and the student body could attend, if the community has a slow increase of active cases. Tier 3 shows a steady rise in active cases, and only the student body or the parents could attend.
No fans will be allowed in tier 4, which has sharp increases in cases and hospitalizations in the community. SDHSAA Executive Director Dan Swartos said schools may choose the opposite by starting with no fans and working up to larger crowds.
“None of those are requirements,” said Swartos. “We heard from some schools that wanted some guidance, especially on fan attendance. We just wanted to put an example out there.”
Swartos emphasized the need for assigned seating and masks to be worn on team buses to help with contact tracing. “We want to stress that,” Swartos said. “And we recommend that schools do that.”
Final recommendations from the task force ask that all SDHSAA fall sports proceed according to schedule with the rule modifications. They will also follow screening procedures and South Dakota Department of Health protocol for confirmed close contacts and confirmed positive cases.


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Milbank, SD 57252
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