The Secondary School Activities Commission on Thursday released a set of COVID-19 related guidelines regarding postseason play in high school soccer, cross country, volleyball and football.
One of the most significant parts of that release was the SSAC’s decision to have four as the minimum number of regular-season games played in order to qualify for the football playoffs. In previous years, eight was the minimum number and most teams played 10 regular-season games.
While some football teams have already played six games this season, several counties have played far fewer due to high COVID-19 numbers, and Kanawha County didn’t open its regular season until Oct. 7. Following Tuesday’s games, 10 teams in both Class AAA and AA statewide have played fewer than four games, and 11 in Class A.
The SSAC also announced that schools located in counties that are green, yellow or gold on the Department of Education’s School Alert System color-coded map on the Saturday before postseason play begins will be eligible to compete in postseason soccer, volleyball and football. Schools in counties that are orange or red (higher risk) on those respective 5 p.m. Saturday maps, however, will not be permitted to participate in postseason play.
Soccer sectionals open on Monday, so this Saturday’s map will be the determining date for that sport. In volleyball, the Oct. 31 map will govern sectional play that is set to start on Monday, Nov. 2. In football, the Nov. 7 map precedes the start of playoffs the following weekend.
Schools located in gold counties on the color-coded map will be able to compete against green, yellow and other gold counties during the postseason, and gold counties — like green and yellow — may also host postseason games. However, any county that is verified as turning red during the week on the Department of Health and Human Resources daily map may not compete. Spectator attendance will also be capped at 20 percent of seating capacity for postseason play.
In cross country and sideline cheering, athletes from schools in orange counties may participate in postseason events if they received a negative COVID-19 test result within seven days of the start of the contest. Cross country regionals are scheduled for Oct. 22-24, so county colors on this Saturday’s WVDE map will also determine that sport.
The SSAC also announced two other decisions regarding football seasons:
n No bonus points will be awarded in the West Virginia playoff rating system from defeated opponents in another state whose respective states have already started their postseason when those cross-state games are played. Ohio, for example, has already started its playoffs following a shortened regular season, but some teams are opting to play additional regular-season games.
n West Virginia teams that have not played the maximum number of 10 regular-season games may add a game until Nov. 28.