High School Athletic Association releases full schedule, including playoffs

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association recently updated its calendar for the 2020-21 academic year, now including the postseason for fall, winter, and spring sports. Per the state of North Carolina’s “Safer at Home” Phase 2.5 protocols, NCHSAA member schools can abide by standards including a total of 25 persons in an indoor venue, and a total of 50 persons in outdoor venues at the present time. The updated calendar, including postseason calendar for all sports, is listed below.

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association recently updated its calendar for the 2020-21 academic year, now including the postseason for fall, winter, and spring sports. Per the state of North Carolina’s “Safer at Home” Phase 2.5 protocols, NCHSAA member schools can abide by standards including a total of 25 persons in an indoor venue, and a total of 50 persons in outdoor venues at the present time. The updated calendar, including postseason calendar for all sports, is listed below:

Cross Country

First Practice - November 4

First Contest - November 16

Final Regular Season Contest - January 8

Season Limit - 14 meets

Weekly Limit - 2 meets

Reporting Deadline - Friday, January 8

Regionals - Saturday, January 16

State - Saturday, January 23

—-During Phase Two, runners must maintain at least 6 feet of distancing between individuals, no grouping (i.e. starts and finishes).

Volleyball

First Practice - November 4

First Contest - November 16

Final Regular Season Contest - January 8

Season Limit - 14 games

Weekly Limit - 2 games

Bracketing for State Playoffs - Saturday, January 9

First Round - Tuesday, January 12

Second Round - Thursday, January 14

Third Round - Saturday, January 16

Regionals - Tuesday, January 19

State Finals - Saturday, January 23

—-During Phase Two, limit sharing of balls to within pods. Disinfect equipment frequently, and prior to use by another pod. Must maintain 6 feet physical distancing.

Swimming and Diving 

First Practice - November 23

First Contest - December 7

Final Regular Season Contest - January 30

Season Limit - 14 meets

Weekly Limit - 2 meets

Reporting Deadline - Saturday, January 30

Regionals - February 4-6

State - February 10-13

—-During Phase Two, must maintain 6 feet physical distancing at all times—in the pool and on the deck. Only one lap swimmer per lane. Ensure frequent disinfecting measures are occurring in the pool, on deck and with all equipment.

Basketball (Men’s and Women’s)

First Practice - December 7

First Contest - January 4

Final Regular Season Contest - February 19

Season Limit - 14 games

Weekly Limit - 2 games

Bracketing for State Playoffs - Saturday, February 20

First Round - Tuesday, February 23

Second Round - Thursday, February 25

Third Round - Saturday, February 27

Regionals - Tuesday, March 2

State Finals - Saturday, March 6

—-Limit sharing of balls to within pods. Disinfect equipment frequently, and prior to use by another pod. No physical contact. Must maintain 6 feet physical distancing.

Soccer (Men’s)

First Practice - January 11

First Contest - January 25

Final Regular Season Contest - March 12

Season Limit - 14 games

Weekly Limit - 2 games

Bracketing for State Playoffs - Saturday, March 13

First Round - Tuesday, March 16

Second Round - Thursday, March 18

Third Round - Saturday, March 20

Regionals - Tuesday, March 23

State Finals - Saturday, March 27

—-Limit sharing of balls to within pods. Disinfect equipment frequently, and prior to use by another pod; no body contact; Must maintain 6 feet physical distancing.

Lacrosse (Men’s and Women’s)

First Practice - January 1

First Contest - January 25

Final Regular Season Contest - March 12

Season Limit - 14 games

Weekly Limit - 2 games

Bracketing for State Playoffs - Saturday, March 13

First Round - Monday, March 15

Second Round - Wednesday, March 17

Third Round - Monday, March 22

Regionals - Wednesday, March 24

State Finals - Saturday, March 27

—-Wearing protective equipment is prohibited during Phase Two. Limited sharing of balls/equipment to within pods. Disinfect equipment frequently. Must maintain 6 feet physical distancing.

Football

First Practice - February 8

First Contest - February 26

Final Regular Season Contest - April 9

Season Limit - 7 games

Weekly Limit - 1 game

Bracketing for State Playoffs - Saturday, April 10

First Round - Friday, April 16

Second Round - Friday, April 23

Regional Round - Friday, April 30

State Finals - Saturday, May 8

—-Wearing protective equipment is prohibited during Phase Two. Limit sharing of balls/equipment to within pods. Disinfect equipment frequently, and prior to use by another pod. Must maintain 6 feet physical distancing. Contact with other players is not allowed. Tackling dummies / donuts / sleds must be cleaned before use by another pod.

Golf (Men’s and Women’s)

First Practice - March 1

First Contest - March 15

Final Regular Season Contest - April 30

Season Limit - 14 matches

Weekly Limit - 2 matches

Reporting Deadline - Friday, April 30

Regionals - May 3 or 4

State Finals - May 10-11

—-Maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet.

Tennis (Men’s)

First Practice - March 1

First Contest - March 15

Final Regular Season Contest - April 30

Season Limit - 14 matches

Weekly Limit - 2 matches

Reporting Deadline - Friday, April 30

Regionals - May 7-8

State Finals - May 14-15

—-Limit sharing of balls; each player may use own can of balls to serve and uses racket to pass other balls (singles only), ball machine use by individuals only. Wipe down rackets and balls after. Must maintain 6 feet physical distancing.

Soccer (Women’s)

First Practice - March 1

First Contest - March 15

Final Regular Season Contest - April 30

Season Limit - 14 matches

Weekly Limit - 2 matches

Bracketing for State Playoffs - Saturday, May 1

First Round - Monday, May 3

Second Round - Wednesday, May 5

Third Round - Friday, May 7

Regionals - Tuesday, May 11

State Finals - Saturday, May 15

—-Limit sharing of balls to within pods. Disinfect equipment frequently, and prior to use by another pod; no body contact; Must maintain 6 feet physical distancing.

Softball

First Practice - March 1

First Contest - March 15

Final Regular Season Contest - April 30

Season Limit - 14 matches

Weekly Limit - 2 matches

Bracketing for State Playoffs - Saturday, May 1

First Round - Monday, May 3

Second Round - Wednesday, May 5

Third Round - Friday, May 7

Regionals - Tuesday, May 11

State Finals - May 14-15

—-Limited sharing of balls and bats within pods. Disinfect equipment frequently and prior to use by another pod. A single player may hit in cages, throw batting practice (with netting as backstop, no catcher). Must maintain 6 feet physical distancing. Dugouts must be closed.

Baseball

First Practice - April 12

First Contest - April 26

Final Regular Season Contest - June 11

Season Limit - 14 games

Weekly Limit - 2 games

Bracketing for State Playoffs - Saturday, June 12

First Round - Tuesday, June 15

Second Round - Thursday, June 17

Third Round - Saturday, June 19

Regionals - Tuesday, June 22

State Finals - June 25-26

—-Limited sharing of balls and bats within pods. Disinfect equipment frequently and prior to use by another pod. A single player may hit in cages, throw batting practice (with netting as backstop, no catcher). Must maintain 6 feet physical distancing. Dugouts must be closed.

Tennis (Women’s)

First Practice - April 12

First Contest - April 26

Final Regular Season Contest - June 11

Season Limit - 14 games

Weekly Limit - 2 games

Reporting Deadline - Friday, June 11

Regionals - June 18-19

State Finals - June 25-26

—-Limit sharing of balls; each player may use own can of balls to serve and uses racket to pass other balls (singles only), ball machine use by individuals only. Wipe down rackets and balls after. Must maintain 6 feet physical distancing.

Track and Field

First Practice - April 12

First Contest - April 26

Final Regular Season Contest - June 11

Season Limit - 14 meets

Weekly Limit - 2 meets

Reporting Deadline - Friday, June 11

Regionals - June 18-19

State Finals - June 25-26

—-Runners must maintain 6 feet physical distancing between individuals; no grouping (i.e. starts and finishes). Limit sharing of implements / equipment to within pods. Disinfect frequently between use. Padded equipment /landing pits/poles must be disinfected between use.

Wrestling

First Practice - April 12

First Contest - April 26

Final Regular Season Contest - June 11

Season Limit - 14 duals

Weekly Limit - 2 duals

Reporting Deadline - Friday, June 11

Regionals - June 18-19

State Finals - June 26

—-Mat room can be opened in Phase Two, only under LEA guidelines. Conditioning, mirror drills with spacing, no contact. Wrestlers may skill and drill, without touching a teammate, with 6-feet distancing. Limited to 10 persons.

Cheerleading 

Invitational - May 22

—-Conditioning and individual technique/choreography work. Students may not practice/perform partner or group stunts. Chants, jumps, dance, tumbling without contact are permissible with 6-feet physical distancing. If sharing mats, must be disinfected after each individual stunt.

The NCHSAA released a press announcement last week indicating the updates.

“The NCHSAA Staff have been working closely with the NCHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) on these recommendations for member schools regarding activities that align with NC DHHS directives,” the NCHSAA’s press release stated. “The guidance utilizes a phased approach for NCHSAA athletes and is intended to help school administrators, coaches, parents, students, and communities navigate a gradual reopening of high school athletic activities.”

“We are looking forward to fully resuming sports in November. As always, we will continue to monitor health and safety guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

NCHSAA modified skill development procedures and phases are in accordance with guidelines published by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and are subject to change. With progression to future phases, further criteria will be established, will be in accordance with the Governor and the DHHS, and will be strictly followed.

Pre-Participation Evaluation

Due to the extraordinary circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in school closures, an emergency addition to the NC State Board of Education Policy, ATHL-001, has been approved by the State Board of Education on April 23, 2020. The approved regulation now states: 

All student athletes who had a valid Pre-participation Examination (PPE) form dated anytime between March 1, 2019 - May 1, 2020 (used for the 2019-2020 seasons) will be granted a temporary one-year extension through the end of the 2020-2021academic year. If the student does not have a valid form from these dates, they will need an updated physical form prior to being allowed to participate (workouts, skill development, practice, competition). 

Please be reminded that the student-athlete/family medical history portion of the PPE Form is required annually and must be completed and signed by the parent or legal custodian prior to participation during the 2020-2021 academic year. There is no waiver or extension applied to this requirement.

Skill Development Guidelines

All skill development sessions must be voluntary and at no time may a coach require of any student off-season skill development sessions as a measure of continued participation on a team. Any coach who promotes the idea that taking part in off-season skill development is required is blatantly out of compliance with the intent and purpose of this rule.

Athletes are limited to a maximum of 90 minutes of skill development per day.

Dead Periods

1. First five student days of the academic school year

2. Last five student days of 1st semester

3. Last ten student days of 2nd semester

4. Additional sport season dead period will be announced by the Board of Directors

—-Eight graders are not permitted to participate in skill development sessions on high school campuses.

—-Contests or combined practices between member schools are prohibited during off-season skill development

Outside “Club” Program Regulations

Any individual affiliated with an NCHSAA member high school must abide by the skill development, out-of-season workout rules. If this individual also coaches a “non-school” or “club team” outside the sports season but during the school year, and has any students from the high school on that outside team, he or she cannot work with any of them during a dead period and are restricted to the maximum number allowable per sport.

Facilities Cleaning

Adequate cleaning schedules must be created and implemented for all athletic facilities. Bathrooms, if opened, must be disinfected after use. 

Prior to an individual or groups of individuals entering a facility, hard surfaces within that facility must be disinfected (chairs, furniture in meeting rooms, weight room equipment, bathrooms, athletic training room tables, etc.). 

Hand sanitizer (containing >60% ethanol or >70% isopropanol) must be plentiful and available to individuals as they move from place to place. Appropriate clothing/shoes must 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 must be covered. Students must be encouraged to shower and wash their workout clothing immediately upon returning to home. Once facilities are cleaned - individuals must wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with water and soap; or, in the absence of a hand washing station, hand sanitizer may be used before touching any surfaces or participating in workouts.

Limitation on Gatherings

Workouts/conditioning remains limited to no more than 90 minutes in Phase Two. Attention to heat and humidity factors is required.•Gatherings in outside venues are limited to no more than 50persons.•Gatherings in indoor venues are limited to no more than 25 persons. The gathering numbers, as mentioned above, include coaches, managers, trainers, etc. 

Drills or activities requiring the use of equipment during workouts should be conducted in pods of students with the same 5-10 students working out together weekly (same grouping each day) to limit overall exposures. Records must be maintained of the groupings to facilitate contact tracing, if required. Smaller pods can be utilized for weight training. There must always be a minimum distance of 6 feet between each individual. 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 Monitoring

All coaches and students must be screened daily 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 must not be allowed to participate; must be sent home; and, should be directed to their primary care practitioner (Family Medicine, Pediatrics or Internal Medicine) for evaluation and potential need for further testing. Responses to screening questions for each person must be recorded and stored (see Monitoring Form attached). 

The head coach (or designee) is responsible for collection of the data from each day’s screening. Ideally this would be the same individual each day for consistency. Students or coaches who have a positive pre-workout screening must not be allowed back until they have a note from their healthcare provider indicating that they do not need to be tested or that their symptoms are not due to COVID-19. 

Students, coaches, staff considered vulnerable individuals, or those concerned with contracting COVID-19 should consult family doctor before supervising or participating in any workouts during Phase Two. If a person on the team tests positive for COVID-19, all members of that pod and those who had close contact with that individual should Quarantine (stay at home) until 14 days after your last exposure, unless you have a negative PCR COVID-19 test.

The local public health authority must be notified by the head coach (or designee) to help with contact tracing. To resume workouts, an athlete or coach must meet each of the following criteria: 

  1. No fever for 72 hours without fever reducing medications, since recovery
  2. Resolution of respiratory symptoms
  3. At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared
  4. A note of clearance from a licensed medical provider (MD, DO, NP, PA)

State, local or school district guidelines for acceptable cloth face coverings must be strictly followed. There is no need to require or recommend “medical grade” masks for physical activity. Coaches, staff, managers must maintain 6-feet physical distancing etc. should give strong consideration to wearing cloth face coverings at all times. (Be a role model!) 

Athletes are strongly recommended to wear a cloth face covering when not actively engaged in physical activity and maintain 6-feet physical distancing. Face masks should not be worn during activities that inhibit breathing (i.e. swimming, distance running, or other high aerobic activity). Face masks must not be shared. Plastic shields covering the entire face are not allowed during participation. Artificial noisemakers such as an air horn or a timer system with an alarm, can be used as a signal in place of a traditional whistle.