COVID-guided policies set for school sporting events as seasons approach

With high school and middle school athletics about to return to competition, Polk County administrators have compiled some of the most important guidelines that they believe the community and families of athletes should know before attending events.

Local volleyball and cross country programs can begin regular-season play on Monday, Nov. 16. That will mark the first competitive date since the North Carolina High School Athletic Association halted all events on March 13 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The guidance from local officials is based on policies and guidelines set by the NCHSAA and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and apply to all events involving Polk County High School and Polk County Middle School. Those guidelines include:

Athlete/Coach/Event Staff

  • All coaches, athletes, and event staff must be screened upon entry for signs/symptoms of COVID-19 prior to participating, including a temperature check
  • Anyone with a temperature of 100.4° F or higher, or who reports any COVID-like symptoms, cannot participate in the event in any capacity.  Additionally, family members of a positive screening must also be removed and quarantined.
  • Coaching staff and event staff must wear a mask at all times.
  • Non participating athletes must wear a mask at all times.
  • Participating athletes may not necessarily have to wear a mask (the NCHSAA is continually making changes to this policy by sport.  Athletes should contact their coach or athletics office for more specifics).

Spectators

  • All spectators will also be subject to the COVID-19 screening process, including a temperature check.  Temperatures of 100.4° F or higher will not be admitted.
  • Spectators must wear a mask at all times.
  • Spectators will be seated allowing for at least six feet spacing between family groups.
  • Concession stands will not be available.
  • Currently, the number of spectators are limited per venue:
    • Indoor events – 25 spectators (tickets will be assigned to athletes to ensure families have the best chance of seeing their child play.  Specifics on how tickets will be assigned can be obtained from coaches or through each school’s athletics office)
    • Outdoor events – 100 spectators (there are other criteria that could affect baseball/softball and ultimately reduce that number for those venues. Local officials plan to wait to post that criteria until those seasons draw closer to allow for potential changes)
    • For both types of venues – The following do not count in spectator limits: Coaches, event staff, JV athletes, cheerleaders
  • Scrimmages are considered a practice, therefore spectators are not permitted to attend.
  • If two or more games are scheduled, the gym must be vacated immediately after an event so that staff can clean and disinfect before the next group may enter.  An example would be a junior varsity game followed by a varsity contest.  Spectators waiting to see the second game will need to wait outside the building until cleaning has been completed and the building vacated from the first group
  • At the time of this article, the Western Highlands Conference has agreed that visiting spectators will not be permitted to attend away games.  There are very few unique exceptions and those details can be obtained from each student-athlete’s coach or through the Polk County High School athletics office.

Video Streaming

Guidance from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) is continually evolving.  The living document for the most up-to-date rules can be found at this link.