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MHSAA sets restart guidelines for athletics

The Mississippi High School Activities Association announced its return to activity guidelines for athletic and fine art activities last Thursday, paving the way for some activities to resume June 1.

The new guidelines cover a wide range of topics including a screening and care plan, the necessity of an acclimatization period, how to sanitize facilities and other necessary details program leaders must know about before restarting.

The guidelines state schools must formulate a comprehensive response plan for the possibility of a student testing positive for COVID-19, while also suggesting the minimization of contact during summer workouts.

Another restriction put in place by the MHSAA is the prohibition of competition between MHSAA member and non-member schools, meaning teams won’t be able to compete against outside opponents until the start of school in the fall.

The MHSAA also ordered a mandatory acclimatization period in order to allow athletes the necessary amount of time to get in top shape before full speed practices. The guidelines state that during days 1-7:

1. Athletes may not participate in more than one practice per day. Total practice time should not exceed two hours per day.

2. As a recommendation, intensity levels of activity should be reduced to 50% of the pre-COVID conditioning levels during the first 7 days.

Days 8-14:

3. Intensity level may increase to 75% over the course of days 8-14 with the intention of reaching full intensity level on day 14. This includes weight room training and conditioning activities. Testing volume should also follow these reduced amounts.

The main purpose of the guidelines is to allow athletes who may have not been able to condition during quarantine ample time to start working towards a better level of fitness.

There is also a section about athletic trainers and the coverage they provide to schools.

During the pandemic certain trainers may have been let go or moved into other positions to help fight the pandemic, so the MHSAA is requiring schools ensure trainers are available.

Teams often times travel to away camps in order to bond and learn new skills, which this year won’t be a possibility with the MHSAA prohibiting participation in off-campus summer camps.

While these guidelines set the way for the return to activities, the restrictions in place mean programs across the state will have to adapt to their new normal for summer practices. The guidelines are subject to change as more information comes out about the coronavirus, but right now these guidelines provide a glimmer of hope for athletes, coaches and fans that sports will return in full force this fall. In order to see all the details of the new guidelines visit misshsaa.com. There is a possibility that guidelines will be added or deleted during the coming months.