The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

By Jack H. Smith
Whitehall Ledger 

MHSA announces fall sports guidelines


August 5, 2020

Miles Hoerauf and the Trojans will open the season at home August 28 against Cut Bank.

As it stands today, fall sports in Whitehall are scheduled to start on time. The Montana High School Association (MHSA) announced July 27 their guidelines for fall activities that include a five-tier structure with all schools across the state starting in Tier 1.

According to Executive Director Mark Beckman, the MHSA Board recently approved various directives, requirements, and considerations regarding the return of fall activities.

"Along with the National Federation of High School Associations, the MHSA Executive Board believes the resumption of sports and other activities is crucial to the growth, development, and mental and emotional wellness of our Montana youth," he said. "Once again, we believe that the safety and well-being of our student activity participants is paramount. These requirements, both general and activity-specific, attempt to reduce the possibility of transmission of coronavirus for our student activity participants and for coaches, officials, and fans of MHSA activities."

The guidelines of Tier 1 include practices starting on time, and games being played as scheduled. Tier 1 does not allow for triangular or invitational tournaments with the exception of golf and cross country. Attendance at MHSA events is dependent on the host site and local health department guidelines and restrictions. The guidelines state that local health department requirements will differ, and schools need to consult their local health authority and be ready to submit a plan for approval if required. Additionally, schools/districts/classifications will have to determine the number of tickets they will provide to the visiting team per allowed maximum attendance.

Fall sports practices are scheduled to start on August 13 and 14. The golf season can start as early as August 15, while football, volleyball, and cross country can start the season on August 27. The fall sports meeting in Whitehall is scheduled for August 11 at 6 p.m.

In Tier 2, there would be a delayed start with all non-conference games cancelled. Tier 3 would include a delayed start of interruption for a longer period of time with non-conference games cancelled and the conference season shortened.

Tier 4 is a mid-season interruption with the date's formats and sites of the postseason adjusted.

Tier 5 would see a long interruption, there would be some games and round-robin play with the postseason being adjusted.

While the MHSA is moving forward with fall sports including golf, volleyball, cross country and football, the All-State Band, Choir, and Orchestra Music Festival scheduled for October 14 to 16 has been cancelled and will NOT be rescheduled this school year due to concerns from MMEA, MHSA limitations for fall sports and activities, and concerns of high-risk transmissions through the playing of instruments and singing. The Festival will not be rescheduled during the 2020-2021 school year.

Whitehall High School football coach Dan Lacey lauded the guidelines set forth by the MHSA.

"I think the MHSA and local administration is doing everything they can to try and make fall sports happen," he said. "The tier system is a great tool to use to help everyone work hard to keep the student-athletes, coaches, admin, and fans safe."

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General Requirements/Considerations

1. Workouts/practices should be conducted in "pods" / "bubbles" of participants with the same players working out together to limit overall exposure.

2. Before, during, and after the contest, players, coaches, and administration should wash and sanitize their hands as often as possible.

3. No out of state competition or teams traveling from out of state for competition, unless it is in a dual format and approved by the MHSA Executive Director.

4. Always maintain social distancing of 6 feet while on the field/court of play when possible.

5. Everyone must have their own beverage container that is not shared. Safe handling practices should be adhered to during hydration, which includes refilling, retrieval, and identification of water sources.

6. Time-outs (if applicable) may be extended to a maximum of two minutes in length for safe hydration practices. Social distancing requirements must always be followed.

7. Cloth facial coverings are allowed for players, coaches, and officials. Facial coverings must be a single solid color and unadorned. Face Coverings must be worn per the Governor's directive.

8. Gloves are permissible for all players, coaches, and officials.

9. The ball should be cleaned and sanitized throughout the contest/event as recommended by the ball manufacturer.

10. Administrators must limit the number of non-essential personnel who are on the field/player surface area throughout the contest.

11. Attendance at MHSA events is dependent on the host site and local health department guidelines and restrictions.

12. A family's role in maintaining safety guidelines for themselves and others is very important. Make sure your child and immediate household members are free from illness before participating in practice and competition (if there is doubt stay home). Provide personal items for your child and clearly label them.


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