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VHSL updates guidelines, addresses capacity limits / November 30, 2020

The Virginia High School League released its second edition of its 2020-21 Guidelines for Return to Participation last week. The update comes as Virginia continues to see a rise in COVID-19 illnesses.

Sports affected by the updates in which Halifax County High School participates include competition cheer, sideline cheer, soccer and tennis.

The broad overview of the modifications look to limit contact with teammates and competitors and thus reduce the transmission of the coronavirus.

For example in the initial guidelines for cheerleading skill restriction teams were asked to refrain from performing cradles, twist ups or twist downs, basket tosses, inversions, transitional stunts, pyramids and tumbling into a stunt during out-of-season skill development. The newest guidelines don’t allow any of the mentioned skills to be practiced or performed.

The latest recommendations also clearly state that teams conducting out--of--season workouts will continue to abide by Phase 3 guidelines as established by the VHSL and the Virginia Department of Health, regardless of established adjustments allowed for in--season teams to conduct regular season and postseason events.

The VHSL notes that while experiencing sustained COVID -19 activity in particular areas, the safety of all should be the ruling factor in determining whether to hold an athletic event or not.

“During times of substantial COVID-19 activity in a community, participating in recreational sports that involve close contact with others may increase risk of COVID-19 transmission and is not advisable. This is especially true with large events. Consider the extent of community transmission in a region/locality when deciding whether to participate. During times of significantly increasing disease spread, organizers of such events should consider canceling or postponing competition in favor of lesser risk activities such as low -contact drills or practices.

“In addition, new documents were added in the Appendix including the Governor’s Executive Order Sixth Amended Number 67; Spaulding and Wilson Sport Ball cleaning recommendations; and a chart for the “Interim Guidance for Return to Play after COVID-19 infection (Ages 12-21 Years)” produced by the Virginia Chapter – American Academy of Pediatrics,” the release stated.”

The VHSL also made an announcement addressing Gov. Ralph Northam’s decision to reduce the number of spectators at recreational events from 250 to 25 spectators. The organization said the reduced numbers didn’t apply to the teams and wouldn’t affect whether schools can hold sporting events.

“The reduction in public and private gatherings to 25 individuals applies to “spectators” and does not include participants at those events.

The Governor’s order defines “participants” as players, coaches, officials, school event staff and school administration critical to the operations of the contests, media, law enforcement, and medical services. Cheerleaders, pep bands, etc., and other student support groups, are counted as spectators in the limit of 25 allowed at events,” the VHSL said.

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