If high school football is played in West Virginia this fall, fans will notice several differences in the way teams operate.
The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission implemented COVID-19 guidelines Monday, altering pre-game, in-game and post-game activities. The SSAC also relaxed rules for playoff eligibility, waiving the requirement that teams play at least eight games overall and six in their own divisions to qualify for the postseason.
The SSAC issued five required game-day rules:
n The coaching box will be extended from between the 30-yard lines to between the 15-yard lines to encourage social distancing.
n All water or other hydrating solutions will be provided in individual containers. Public water sharing systems will not be permitted.
n Sidelines will be limited to essential personnel such as coaches, players, trainers, managers, etc.
n Time outs and time between quarters will be two minutes.
n Social distancing announcements are to be made over the public address system throughout the games.
The SSAC also issued 14 recommendations:
n Travel with fewer players to away games and dress fewer players at home games.
n Modify pregame meals so personnel eat in smaller groups.
n Use extra dressing facilities, come partially dressed to away games, dress in smaller pods of 10-15 players at a time. Arrange dressing and shower situations with the host team.
n Conduct halftime in the end zones rather than lockerrooms.
n Consider pay-per-view options to recover lost revenue.
n Modify transportation and bus options per West Virginia State Department of Health and Human Resources guidelines.
n Limit contact in practice to one day per week.
n No pregame or postgame handshakes.
n Use electronic tickets rather than paper.
n Position hand sanitizing stations on sidelines.
n Ask CDC COVID-19 screening questions. Follow local health department guidelines for reporting suspicious cases.
n Use disinfectants and cleaning agents in line with CDC and WVDHHR protocols for cleaning equipment, facilities, etc.
n Recommend band and cheerleaders not travel to away games.
n Review face shield information to be made available to all schools.