After a lengthy meeting of its Executive Committee last Thursday, the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) announced a plan resume limited athletic activities.
Athletics and fine arts programs can begin on-campus workouts, practices and rehearsals starting June 1. Initially dependent on the governor's decision about when to open school facilities, it became official when Tate Reeves announced schools could open their athletic facilities beginning the week of May 25.
Due to the long layoff in organized team activities, the organization set a mandatory acclimation period of 14 days, during which the focus should be conditioning and returning to physical fitness. For days 1-7 of the resumption of workouts, athletes can participate in no more than one practice or activity session per day and a maximum of two hours of activity. Furthermore, the intensity level should be reduced to 50% of pre-COVID conditioning levels.
According to the MHSAA, "intensity level may increase to 75% the over the course of days 8-14 with the intention of reaching full intensity level on Day 14." Two practices or sessions per day are permitted beginning on day 7, with total time not to exceed three hours and separated by at least three hours in a cool environment. Double practice days are not permitted on consecutive days. Additionally, "weight room training splits between muscle groups should include no more than 3 sessions per week with one to two days of recovery between sessions."
Programs must insure that group sizes are in compliance with state and local regulations on the size of gatherings.
The MHSAA put out a detailed list of guidelines for the resumption of activity, which can be viewed on its website. These include cleaning and sanitation procedures as well as a requirement to have a response plan in the an event of a student athlete falling ill with COVID-19 or one suspected of being infected.
Due to the nature of the situation and a wide range of personal circumstances, all summer activities are to be considered voluntary for student athletes.
Competition between member schools as well as competition with non-member schools is prohibited until school resumes in the fall, and team travel to off-campus camps is also prohibited. This eliminates the traditional structure of summer that includes summer league games for sports like baseball, basketball and softball and 7-on-7 for football. Instrasquad competition and scrimmages will be permitted.
“Once again, we appreciate the effort, hard work and leadership of our 15-member Executive Committee of school administrators in making difficult decisions during these uncertain times,” MHSAA Executive Director Don Hinton said.
“The support of our MHSAA member schools has been greatly appreciated as well. Our highest priority is and always will be the safety, health and welfare of Mississippi’s students, educators and communities. We will continue to assess new information and develop plans for the upcoming 2020-21 fall sports and activities seasons. Weekly updates will be provided to help our member schools as we look forward to the new school year of sports and activities."