David Mieure, the Williston High School athletic director, said the Williston Public School District No. 1 Activities Department is not yet ready to share information about the fall athletic season.

As of now, high school athletics are expected to continue for the fall semester but recently released alterations to schedules and additional safety guidelines will signal a change in the times.

Last week, the North Dakota High School Activities Association released guidelines and recommendations for opening sports that align with ensuring safety and preventing the spread of COVID-19.

The guidelines come after the NDHSAA board unanimously approved continuing fall sports during a July 16 meeting.

However, in a press release from July 16, the NDHSAA said school boards for member schools, along with local public health units, will ultimately determine if the school will sponsor sports and activities.

Mieure said in an email Wednesday that because of constant COVID-19 planning and athletic changes, he cannot share information until the school district has collected as much information as possible.

He said as soon as they finalize plans, they will share information with coaches, student-athletes, families, officials, workers and community members.

“Unfortunately, at this time, there are still too many questions that need to be answered before information can be shared,” Mieure said.

He said information should be available by next week.

Guidelines and Recommendations for Opening Sports/Activities

The NDHSAA released several documents detailing return to competition guidelines for fall sports.

The first document titled “Guidelines and Recommendations for Opening Sports/Activities,” contains two checklists that coaches can use prior to the first practice and the first game; NDHSAA Board of Directors requirements for sport and activity; recommendations for return to sport and activity due to COVID-19 and recommendations for postseason tournaments.

Specific guidelines include required daily attendance logs, which is an effort to prevent spread of COVID-19 by using contact tracing in the event that someone within the team tests positive.

The daily logs should also indicate groups that were within six feet of each other for a period of 15 minutes or longer and if individuals wore masks, according to the document.

There are also locker room guidelines, which include staggering schedules for locker rooms to avoid crowding and encouraging athletes to shower at home after practices and games.

For teams that will travel, recommendations include spaced out seating of six feet, keeping windows open, assigned seating or using multiple vehicles if possible.

As for games, the NDHSAA encourages schools to live stream games that have restricted attendance, consider cashless transactions at admission entrances, limiting crowds and recommending masks or face coverings for all table/sideline personnel.

NDHSAA Sport Specific Recommendations

A second document outlines sport specific recommendations for cross country, golf, football, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis and volleyball.

There are also considerations listed for officiating.

Some examples of the recommendations include social distancing at cross country meets as well as no hugging, shaking hand or fist bumps for support/encouragement.

For golf ball washers, bunker rakes and drinking fountain/coolers should be removed and clubhouse access at courses may be limited.

And football considerations include cleaning the ball throughout the game, not sharing uniforms, towels or other equipment and maintaining social distancing while in the team box.

The recommendations and guidelines were approved on July 24 and both documents maintain that the information is subject to change based on the ever evolving pandemic.

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