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WIAA releases guidelines for resuming youth sports in Washington

Marysville-Pilchuck High School football players are pictured on the sideline of a foggy playoff football game on October 31, 2014, in Marysville, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Gov. Jay Inslee relaxed some COVID-related restrictions on a handful of activities this week, including limitations on youth sports.

The do’s and don’ts of youth sports during a pandemic

Depending on where in the reopening process a county is, youth sports are permitted to return provided they meet a series of key benchmarks. The state divides sports into three categories: low, moderate, and high risk activities.

Low risk activities include: Tennis, swimming, diving, golf, cross country, track and field, sideline/no-contact cheerleading, and dance. Moderate risk activities include softball, baseball, soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, and bowling.

High-risk activities are limited to high-contact sports like football, wrestling, cheerleading and dance with contact, and basketball.

In counties with under 25 new cases over two weeks per every 100,000 residents and under 5% positivity, all three categories of sports can resume scrimmages, intra-team competitions, and league games, as well as tournaments. Spectators are allowed provided they follow gathering size limits outlined in the governor’s Safe Start Plan.

In counties between 25 and 75 new cases over two weeks per every 100,000 residents with under 5% positivity, intra-team competitions, scrimmages, and league games are permitted for low and moderate risk activities. High risk sports are limited to scrimmages and intra-team competitions sans league games. Tournament play is not allowed for any sport, and spectators are limited to one adult, parent, guardian, or caregiver for each student in uniform.

Washington still has hurdles to clear before student-athletes return to play

Counties with over 75 cases per every 100,000 residents over a two week period or a positivity rate under 5% can resume practices and training for sports, provided players are limited to groups of six in separate parts of the field or court, and are separated by a buffer zone.

In those counties, scrimmages, intra-team competitions, and league games are only allowed for low-risk sports, but “are discouraged if the school is not conducting some in-person learning.”

You can read the sport-specific guidelines from the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association here.

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