Home » KHSAA releases new guidelines for when high school sports can return

KHSAA releases new guidelines for when high school sports can return



  • This document is intended to provide guidance for KHSAA member schools and affiliated member schools to consider with their stakeholders in designing return-to-activity protocols in accordance with state and county restrictions. It allows for a coordinated reopening following the initial stay at home orders and may also be used if conditions dictate the need for increased restrictions in the future. This document will be submitted for approval to the Return to Work Portal of the Commonwealth of Kentucky to ensure compliance with directives.
  • From the CDC, (May 19, 2020 in referring to its Consideration for Schools) all schools should remember that, “Implementation should be guided by what is feasible, practical, acceptable, and tailored to the needs of each community.”
  • Each sports-specific list of allowances within the four segments defined thus far by the Governor is listed in the table below.
  • The entirety of the content of the Governor’s original order is listed at the end of this document, and also online at https://go.aws/2XfCZy8.
  • This document recognizes that throughout this pandemic, the situation has been extremely fluid, and to say it is ever-changing would be an understatement.


  • The KHSAA, though formed as a private entity, is a state actor within the context of KRS 156.070 and 702 KAR 7:065 as the designee of the Kentucky Board of Education. On Friday, May 22, the Governor of the Commonwealth issued guidance for the restart of youth sports, including a timeline for an activity for the period between June 15 and the end of June.
  • While the KHSAA can autonomously act in some areas, as a state actor, it cannot override the order of the Governor without significant risk. As such, the first action of the Board was to adopt a position statement complying with the Governor’s orders as we attempt a restart of sports and sport-activities in the Commonwealth.
  • The Board of Control affirmed at its meeting on May 28 that for the periods defined within any published order of the Governor during this pandemic, all KHSAA timelines must not contradict and shall be congruent with such order(s).
  • Monitoring of these guidelines is solely at the local level prior to the beginning on any practice periods for specific seasonal competition (i.e. normally July 15 for high schools in most fall sports, and stipulated middle schools in football as well).
  • Reports of violations will be reported to local school authorities for action as a matter of institutional control, as well as, if appropriate, the KYcovid19 violation reporting hotline for further administration.
  • At its meeting on May 28, 2020, the Board of Control confirmed by a unanimous vote that KRS 156.070 gives it no authority to waive the annual physical exam and confirmed that there will be no waiver of this requirement and that all students continue to be required have such exam performed and signed by a physician, physician assistant, advanced practice registered nurse, or chiropractor (if performed within the professional’s scope) prior to participation including practice.
  • At its meeting on May 28, 2020, the Board of Control confirmed by majority vote to approve the waiver of Bylaw 24, Sec. 3 (Dead period) for 2020 only in order to comply with the Governor’s Youth Sports order issued May 22, 2020.


  • The KHSAA and all state high school associations believe it is essential to the physical and mental well-being of students to return to physical activity and athletic competition.
  • The KHSAA and all state high school associations recognize that all Kentucky students may be unable to return to – and sustain – athletic activity at the same time across the state. There will also likely be variation in what sports and activities are allowed over the next few months.
  • While recognizing that district-to-district reopening may lead to perceived inequities, the KHSAA and all state high school associations advocate for returning students to school-based athletics and activities.
  • Even more important Is the strong relationship that exists between most players and their coaches, a relationship that likely has never been more important to both the athlete and the coach in light of this pandemic.
  • The coach is integral in monitoring the health and well-being of all participants and school coaches, due to their immense amount of required education and training. In order to serve as a coach, they are in a unique position to help determine if additional guidance or alternative steps are needed to ensure each participant begins the process of recovery from the physical, mental, psychological, and other aspects of this pandemic.


  • Prior to allowing the use of facilities, schools and other sports organizations should review facility use agreements, especially in the areas of sanitation requirements and liability.
  • Limited testing availability, lack of resources for contact tracing, and expanding knowledge of COVID-19 transmission could all result in significant changes to this guidance, and the KHSAA and all-state high school associations will disseminate more information as it becomes available.
  • Administrators and coaches must emphasize the need for all coaches and participants who have signs or symptoms of illness to stay home when ill to decrease the risk of viral transmission. “Vulnerable individuals” are defined by the CDC as people age 65 years and older and others with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and those whose immune systems are compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring such therapy.
  • Current pre-season conditioning and acclimatization models assume that athletes have deconditioned during the stay at home orders. The current pandemic may result in students being deconditioned for several months. The intensity and duration of training should be moderated upon return and thus the reason for a step-wise approach.
  • Parents should be directed to all available research and guidance if they have participation questions about their sons or daughters.
  • Due to the near-certainty of recurrent outbreaks in the coming months, schools and other sports organizations must be prepared for periodic school closures and the possibility of some teams having to isolate for two or more weeks while in-season.


  • Development of additional and future policies regarding practice and/or competition during temporary school closures, the cancellation of contests during the regular season, and parameters for the cancellation or premature ending to post-season events/competitions will be ongoing.
  • Stages and segments are in accordance with guidelines published by the Commonwealth of Kentucky and are subject to change.
  • At a point in time in the summer, additional decisions will be made regarding an official start for specific fall sports practices.



  • As of this date (May 28, 2020), no openings have been allowed or announced for gymnasiums. Any reference to the opening of gyms at this time refers to fitness centers. This document will be updated when additional directives are issued by the Governor.


  • Prior to an individual or groups of individuals entering a facility, hard surfaces within that facility should be wiped down and sanitized (chairs, furniture in meeting rooms, weight room equipment, bathrooms, athletic training room tables, etc.).
  • Individuals should wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with warm water and soap or hand sanitizer before touching any surfaces or participating in workouts.
  • Hand sanitizers should be plentiful and available to individuals as they transfer from place to place.
  • Appropriate clothing/shoes should be worn at all times to minimize sweat from transmitting onto equipment/surfaces.
  • Any equipment such as weight benches, athletic pads, etc. having holes with exposed foam should be covered.
  • Students must be encouraged to shower and wash their workout clothing immediately upon returning to home.

Entrance/Exit Strategies

  • Consider strategies to prevent groups from gathering at entrances/exits to facilities to limit crossover and contact, including staggering starting/ending times.

Limitations on Gatherings

  • No gathering of more than 10 people at a time (inside or outside) prior to June 29.
  • Workouts should be conducted in “pods” of students with the same 5-10 students working out together weekly to limit overall exposures.
  • Smaller pods can be utilized for weight training.
  • There must be a minimum distance of 6 feet between each individual at all times.
  • If this is not possible indoors, then the maximum number of individuals in the room must be decreased to obtain a minimum distance of 6 feet between each individual.

Pre-Workout Screening

  • All coaches and students should be screened daily for signs/symptoms of COVID-19 prior to participating, including a temperature check. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees should not participate and be sent home.
  • Responses to screening questions for each person should be recorded and stored.
  • Any person with positive symptoms reported should not be allowed to participate, should self-isolate, and contact their primary care provider or other health-care professional.
  • Vulnerable individuals should not supervise or participate in any workouts.


  • State, local or school district guidelines for cloth face coverings should be strictly followed with no deterrents against those who desire to wear them.
  • Cloth face coverings should be considered acceptable.
  • There is no need to require or recommend “medical grade” masks for physical activity.
  • Any student who prefers to wear a cloth face covering should be allowed to do so.
  • Plastic shields covering the entire face will not be allowed during participation due to the risk of unintended injury to the person wearing the shield or others.
  • Coaches, officials, and other contest personnel may wear cloth face coverings at all times and are strongly encouraged to wear cloth face coverings especially whenever physical distancing is not possible. (Artificial noisemakers such as an air horn or a timer system with an alarm can be used to signal in place of a traditional whistle.)

Hygiene Practices

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer, especially after touching frequently used items or surfaces.
  • Sneeze or cough into a tissue, or the inside of your elbow. Avoid touching your face.
  • Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible.
  • Strongly consider using face coverings while in public, and particularly when using mass transit


  • All students must bring their own water bottles. Water bottles must not be shared. Food should not be shared.  Hydration stations (water cows, water trough, water fountains, etc.) should not be utilized.


  • Prioritizing the health and safety of all students and staff should remain the focus of each KHSAA member school and affiliated middle school. These requirements should be followed when conducting voluntary strength and conditioning sessions:
  • Schools should be guided by the information contained in state guidance for fitness centers/gyms (not gymnasiums) but gyms that are permitted to reopen on June 1, listed at https://go.aws/3dcbkDL
  • It is the responsibility of each KHSAA member school to comply with the above requirements.
  • Each person entering the facility should have their temperature checked upon arrival with any individual with a temperature registering 100.4 degrees or above not be permitted to stay
  • Hands should be washed or hand sanitizer used prior to entering the facility and touching any equipment
  • Restrooms, if opened, should be sanitized before use and at the conclusion of the workout
  • 2 people maximum on any one piece of equipment
  • Spotters should wear a mask or cloth face covering
  • Maintain social distance by being 6 feet apart
  • Follow gathering CDC and state guidelines for groups of 10 or fewer students
  • Groups of 10 or less should be pre-determined
  • Once groups determined, students may not switch from one group to another
  • Interaction between groups must be avoided
  • Sessions can only include weightlifting, running, and exercises designed to promote physical fitness.
  • Sport-specific drills are not permitted unless permitted during that time frame by the Governor’s order, and sport-specific equipment may not be used.
  • Implement diligent and effective cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched objects and surfaces following the guidance of the CDC
  • Each piece of equipment should be disinfected between each user of the equipment
  • Hands should be washed or hand sanitizer used every 30 minutes
  • Any equipment used should be disinfected every 30 minutes
  • No shared hydrating bottles, towels, gloves, or any other personal equipment is permitted
  • Coaches or other supervisory adults should wear a mask or cloth face covering

Social Distancing Requirements

  • League officials, coaches, and other responsible adults should do the following:
  • Establish procedures to ensure youth athletes are socially distanced to the greatest extent practicable at all times. League officials, coaches, and other responsible adults should emphasize physical and cardiovascular fitness and individual skill-building activities and limit group/team activities. League officials, coaches, and other responsible adults developing activities and practices should consider that older youth might be better able to follow directions for social distancing and take other protective actions.
  • Modify workouts, exercise, skills training, practices, competitions to increase the distance between athletes, coaches, officials, and spectators, to the greatest extent practicable. During rest periods or other periods of inactivity social distancing should be increased and congregating eliminated.
  • Space youth athletes at least six (6) feet apart on the field while participating in the youth sport or athletic activity during warmup, skill-building activities, and simulation drills.
  • Ensure that during team/group practices, physical fitness workouts, exercises, or skills training where youth athletes are subdivided small groups, that each small group remains together and separated from other groups to the greatest extent practicable. For example, groups should work through stations, rather than switching groups or mixing groups.
  • Discourage unnecessary physical contacts, such as high fives, handshakes, fist bumps, or hugs. To encourage sportsmanship league officials, coaches, and other responsible adults should encourage alternative, socially distanced, signs of mutual respect. (e.g. tip the cap, wave, salute, bow).
  • Eliminate, to the greatest extent practicable, touching of shared equipment and gear (e.g., protective gear, balls, bats, racquets, mats, or water bottles). Where practicable, league officials, coaches, and other responsible adults should provide individual, non- shared equipment to youth athletes. Where not practicable, league officials, coaches, and other responsible adults should encourage youth athletes to provide their own equipment and water bottles.
  • Ensure that youth athletes in high-touch sports and activities only play “full contact” during game/competition situations.
  • Encourage parents and custodial adults to monitor their own child (e.g. younger children could sit with parents or caregivers).
  • Minimize the level of contact between youth athletes who may be at higher risk for severe illness, such as children who may have asthma, diabetes, or other health problems.https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-at-higher- risk.html.
  • League officials, coaches, and other responsible adults are encouraged to offer virtual coaching and in-home drills for youth athletes at a higher risk for severe illness.
  • Limit any nonessential visitors, spectators, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations.
  • Decrease team sizes to the greatest extent practicable.
  • Eliminate travel competitions or scrimmages outside of the local community (e.g., neighborhood, town, or community).
  • Educate staff and youth athlete families about when they should stay home and when they can return to activity.
  • Direct coaches, staff, families, and youth athletes to stay home and/or seek medical attention if they have tested positive for or are showing symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Prohibit individuals, including coaches, players, and families, who have recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19, from participating in youth sports and athletic activities.
  • Identify staff to help maintain social distancing among youth athletes, coaches, umpires/referees, and spectators.
  • Prohibit sick coaches, staff members, umpires/officials, or youth athletes from returning until they have met CDC’s criteria to discontinue home isolation
  • https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/disposition-in-home-patients.html.
  • Prioritize outdoor, as opposed to indoor, practice, and play as much as possible.
  • Create distance between youth athletes when explaining drills, rules, or other instructions.
  • Emphasize physical and cardiovascular fitness individual skill work and drills to the greatest extent practicable.
  • Direct youth athletes to wait in their cars with their parents or other custodial adults until just before the beginning of a practice, warm-up, game, or other activity.
  • Eliminate the use of carpools or van pools. When riding in an automobile to a sports event, encourage youth athletes to ride to the sports event with persons living in their same household.
  • Stagger arrival and drop-off times or locations by group or put in place other protocols to limit contact between groups and with parents, custodial adults, and spectators as much as possible. For example, league officials, coaches, and other responsible adults should increase the amount of time between practices and competitions to allow for one group to depart before another group enters the facility.
  • Limit youth sports participation to staff and youth who live in the local geographic area (e.g., community, city, town, or county) to reduce the risk of spread from areas with higher levels of COVID-19.
  • Stage, to the greatest extent practicable, intra-squad scrimmages instead of playing games with other teams to minimize exposure among players and teams.
  • Limit any nonessential visitors, spectators, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations as much as possible – especially with individuals not from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
  • Designate a youth sports program staff person to be responsible for responding to COVID- 19 concerns. All coaches, staff, officials, and families should know who this person is and how to contact them.
  • Establish protocols for notifying staff, officials, families, and the public of youth sports facility closures and restrictions in place to limit COVID-19 exposure (e.g., limited hours of operation).
  • Implement flexible sick leave policies and practices for coaches, officials, and staff that enable employees to stay home when they are sick, have been exposed or caring for someone who is sick.
  • Develop policies for return-to-play after COVID-19 illness.
  • Virtually train coaches, officials, and staff on all safety protocols.
  • Prohibit congregating of youth athletes, spectators, families, coaches, officials, and other persons prior to or following practices or athletic events.
  • Maintain a complete list of coaches, youth athletes, and league officials present at each event to include the date, beginning and ending time of the event, plus, name, address, and phone contact to be made available upon request from the local health department
  • Ensure team meetings occur virtually or over the phone.
  • Alert the local health department of the event prior to competitive tournaments.
  • prohibit spitting or eating of seeds, gum, or similar products.
  • Share these requirements with all youth athletes, coaches, spectators, officials, and employees prior to the beginning of the program.
  • Facilities holding youth sports and athletic activities, as well as league officials, coaches, and other responsible adults should do the following:
    • Provide physical guides, such as signs and tape on floors or playing fields, to make sure that coaches and youth athletes remain at least 6 feet apart.
    • Establish flexible worksites (e.g., telework), flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts), and policies for social distancing between employees, staff, and others
    • Stagger the use of lockers, and clean and disinfect locker rooms between uses.
    • Install touchless sensors on sinks and hand dryers to the greatest extent practicable.
    • Install digital check-in and registrations as well as touch-free entries and exits to the greatest extent practicable.
    • Eliminate “lost and found” bins, vending stations, saunas, steam rooms, water coolers, water fountains, and vending stations to the greatest extent practicable.
    • Ensure that controls are established to ensure social distancing in locker rooms, including disabling lockers to enforce six (6) feet of social distancing. Facilities holding youth sports and athletic activities should discourage the use of locker rooms or consider measures to socially distance youth athletes (e.g. closing every other locker or groups of lockers in order to space out usage) and sanitize frequently.
    • Dugouts or other areas where social distancing is not possible should not be used.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Requirements

  • League officials, coaches, and other responsible adults should do the following:
  • Create and post a cleaning and sanitizing plan specific to the youth sport or athletic activity, describing how additional cleaning and sanitizing will be implemented.
  • Sanitize equipment and used items before, during, and after every event. If equipment cannot be sanitized during the activity, only participants of a single team/group must use equipment and items related to the activity, and opposing participants or group members must avoid touching that equipment.
  • Set aside touched or shared equipment that requires sanitation and encourages youth athletes to keep their individual equipment separate from the equipment of other athletes.
  • Ensure that their programs, including locker rooms, common areas, breakrooms, and restrooms are properly cleaned and ventilated.
  • Ensure that staff members/employees and youth athletes practice hand hygiene frequently. For younger youth athletes assistance may be required.
  • Provide hand sanitizer (as appropriate), handwashing programs, tissues, and wastebaskets in convenient locations to the greatest extent practicable.
  • Establish a cleaning and disinfecting process that follows CDC guidelines to address when an individual is identified, suspected, or confirmed as a COVID-19 case.
  • Ensure employees do not use cleaning procedures that could re-aerosolize infectious particles. This includes, but is not limited to, avoiding practices such as dry sweeping or use of high-pressure streams of air, water, or cleaning chemicals.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces on the field, court, or play surface (e.g., drinking fountains) at least daily, or between uses as much as possible. The use of shared objects and equipment (e.g., balls, bats, gymnastics equipment) should be limited or cleaned between use by each individual if possible.
  • Ensure there are adequate supplies of shared items to minimize the sharing of equipment to the extent possible (e.g., protective gear, balls, bats, water bottles); otherwise, limit use of supplies and equipment to one group of youth athletes at a time and clean and disinfect between use.
  • Ensure that, if food is offered at any event, meals be pre-packaged boxes or bags for each attendee instead of a buffet or family-style meal. Avoid sharing food and utensils. Offer hand sanitizer or encourage hand washing.
  • Ensure ventilation systems or fans operate properly. Increase the circulation of outdoor air as much as possible, for example by opening windows and doors. Do not open windows and doors doing so poses a safety or health risk (e.g., risk of falling or triggering asthma symptoms) to players or others using the facility.
  • Support healthy hygiene by providing supplies including soap, paper towels, tissues, and no-touch/foot pedal trash cans. If hand washing facilities are not available, provide hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol (for coaches, staff, and older players who can safely use hand sanitizer).
  • Should close off areas used by a sick person and do not use these areas until after cleaning and disinfecting them (for outdoor areas, this includes surfaces or shared objects in the area, if applicable).
  • Should wait at least 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.

Screening and Illness Requirements

  • League officials, coaches, and other responsible adults should
  • Conduct daily health checks (e.g., symptom checking) of coaches, officials, staff, and youth athletes safely and respectfully to the greatest extent practicable.
  • Use examples of approved screening methods found in CDC’s supplemental Guidance for Child Care Programs that Remain Open as a guide for screening children, and CDC’s General Business FAQs for screening staff.
  • Staff members who demonstrate symptoms of COVID-19 must be tested for the illness.
  • Should direct coaches, staff, families, and youth athletes that test positive for COVID-19 to follow the recommendations of their local health department on when to return to the youth sport or activity.
  • Ensure that when a youth athlete shows a fever or other contagious symptoms, the youth athlete is moved to a in a safe, secluded area until the youth athlete’s parent or custodial adult can pick-up the youth athlete.
  • Notify all-league families and youth athletes of a diagnosed case of COVID19 in the program, while still protecting the privacy of the diagnosed individual.
  • Encourage coaches, staff, umpires/officials, and families of youth athletes to self-report to the youth sports organization if they have symptoms of COVID-19, a positive test for COVID-19, or were exposed to someone with COVID-19 within the last 14 days.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Requirements

  • League officials, coaches, and other responsible adults should do the following:
  • Wear face coverings at all times, unless doing so would represent a serious risk to their health or safety.
  • Ensure youth athletes wear cloth face coverings or masks when not actively participating in the youth sport or athletic activity unless doing so would represent a serious risk to their health or safety. Youth athletes who are five (5) years of age or under should not wear masks due to increased risks of suffocation and strangulation.
  • Recommend to the parents of children over five (5) that their child wears a mask and provide information about the benefits of masking.
  • Establish a policy as to whether to allow parents, custodial adults or other spectators to attend youth sports competitions or events if the individual refuses to wear a face-covering or comply with social distancing guidelines.
  • Ensure gloves are available to staff members, coaches, volunteers engaging in high-touch activity to the greatest extent practicable provided that they do not create additional hazards while being worn.
  • Ensure, to the greatest extent practicable, that cloth face coverings or masks be worn by coaches, youth sports staff, officials, parents, and spectators as much as possible.
  • Provide youth athletes and their families information on proper use, removal, and washing of cloth face coverings.
  • Establish a policy as to whether youth athletes, who do not adhere to these guidelines or its own policy on requiring masks, will be allowed to participate in that youth sport or athletic activity. League officials, coaches, and other responsible adults may choose not to allow a youth athlete to participate if the athlete refuses to wear a mask, complying with social distancing guidelines.
  • Ensure that staff, volunteers, coaches, youth athletes are trained on how to properly clean cloth face coverings and masks.
  • Ensure that staff, volunteers, coaches use gloves when cleaning equipment, facilities, or other items requiring sanitation.

 Training and Safety Requirements

  • Facilities holding youth sports and athletic activities (e.g. competitions, recitals, tournaments, practices, games) should do the following:
  • Place conspicuous signage at entrances and throughout the facility alerting youth athletes and spectators of the guidelines for the facility and the event. Signage should inform youth athletes and spectators about good hygiene and new practices.
  • Establish procedures for disinfecting high-touch surfaces (seating, locker rooms, etc.).
  • Post signage at the entrance that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19 may enter the facility.
  • Implement, to the greatest extent practicable, reserved seating for spectators at higher risk for severe illness per CDC guidelines.
  • Ensure employees are informed that they may identify and communicate potential improvements and/or concerns in order to reduce the potential risk of exposure at the workplace. All education and training should be communicated in the language best understood by the individual receiving education and training.
  • Broadcast regular announcements on public announcement system, encouraging COVID- 19 prevention and new policies and behaviors that prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Establish scheduling policies to ensure additional time is available to clean and disinfect between uses, where a facility is shared.
  • Ensure parents, custodial adults, youth athletes, and spectators are informed that they may identify and communicate potential improvements and concerns in order to reduce the risk of exposure at the workplace. All education and training should be communicated in the language best understood by the individual receiving the training.
  • Place emphasis on progressive training where general conditioning is emphasized first, followed by strength and body conditioning and then moving on to anything sports specific.

Other Requirements

  • Facilities holding youth sports and athletic events that contain:
  • aquatic centers must follow the Healthy at Work Requirements for Aquatic Centers.
  • fitness centers or other weight lifting and strength building equipment must follow the Healthy at Work Requirements for Fitness Centers.
  • bowling alleys must follow the Healthy at Work Requirements for Bowling Alleys.
  • horse tracks/arenas must follow the Healthy at Work Requirements for Horse Shows and/or Healthy at Work Requirements for Racetracks as applicable.
  • dining areas, snack bars, concession stands must follow the Healthy at Work Requirements for Restaurants.

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