Return to play: Governor releases new guidelines for sports in Pennsylvania

Sports

Schools in the yellow and green phase can resume voluntary sports-related workouts

FILE – In this Dec. 29, 2015 file photo, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks with members of the media at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. Wolf is attacking local elected officials making plans to reopen in defiance of his shutdown orders as cowards deserting the pandemic battlefield. Wolf threatened Monday, May 11, 2020 to block aid to rebellious counties in an escalating political fight over his administration’s handling of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WKBN) – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has released a preliminary guideline for the return of high school, college and professional sports.

According to the release, public and private schools that are members of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) in the yellow and green phase can resume voluntary sports-related workouts.

“Pennsylvania has some of the best athletes and teams in the country and they can now begin to safely return to organized sports,” says Governor Wolf. “This guidance balances keeping student athletes safe from COVID-19 while allowing them to participate in an important part of their lives.

Wolf added in the press release, “This is another step toward reopening our state and getting things back on track. As students and teammates get ready to train and compete, it’s important that they follow precautions to protect each other and their community from the risk of COVID-19.”

The rest of the guidelines released today are:

Schools must first develop an athletic health and safety plan in alignment with the Department of Education’s Preliminary Guidance for Phased Reopening of Schools guidance, that is approved by the local board of directors and posted on the school’s website.

Recreational and amateur sports teams in the green phase that are not affiliated with a K-12 school can hold in-person activities, including games and practices. Examples include basketball, hockey, field hockey, football, soccer, swimming, baseball, softball, lacrosse, gymnastics and kickball. Youth sports organizations should follow CDC guidelines.

Gatherings of all participants, including players, athletic staff, officials and spectators are limited to 25 in the yellow phase and 250, or 50 percent capacity, in the green phase, as outlined in the Process to Reopen Pennsylvania.

League and team staff must review CDC guidance for youth sports. Coaches and other adult personnel should wear face coverings and screen athletes for symptoms before practices and games. All participants must follow safe hygiene and social distancing practices, avoid unnecessary physical contact, and clean and disinfect equipment and facilities. Teams are encouraged to stagger drop-off and pick-up times at outdoor locations and designate entrances and exits to facilities.

Parents and other spectators should practice social distancing, wear face coverings and not enter the field or bench areas. Parents should monitor children for COVID-19 symptoms and evaluate children at higher risk for severe illnesses.

College sports sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), including intramural and club sports, can resume in-person activity after developing an athletic health and safety plan in alignment with PDE’s Postsecondary Education Institutions and Adult Education Programs guidance.

Professional sports can resume immediately. Teams or leagues in the yellow phase, or if more than 250 people are on site in the green phase, must have a COVID-19 safety plan approved by the Department of Health.

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