Thursday, September 23, 2021

State requirements include athletes, coaches, spectators

Staff Writer | August 17, 2021 1:00 AM

OLYMPIA — The Washington State Department of Health last week released its requirements for the 2021-22 school year, kindergarten through 12th grade, for measures to be taken against COVID-19, including requirements for sporting events, performing arts and other extracurricular activities.

For athletics, universal masking, meaning face coverings for everyone regardless of vaccination status, is required for all athletes coaches and trainers in weight rooms as well as for all students and staff in physical education classes while indoors. Masks are not required outdoors.

Masks are recommended in outdoor settings where unvaccinated personnel will be in close proximity, such as in the dugout, in huddles or on the sidelines.

Masks will not be required for athletes practicing low- to moderate-contact indoor sports regardless of vaccination status, although they are encouraged. Universal masking is required indoors when not practicing.

For high-contact indoor sports such as basketball or wrestling, masks will not be required for fully vaccinated athletes or unvaccinated athletes who participate in screening tests. Athletes participating in offseason practices for high-contact indoor sports must adhere to universal masking or initiate the screening testing protocol.

All athletics staff must wear face coverings at all times while indoors in K-12 settings. Referees and officials who are fully vaccinated will not be required to wear masks while actively officiating or running at indoor events, but will be required to wear face coverings in between action, such as while talking with coaches or in between quarters.

All spectators must be masked for indoor events, and separated into small groups spaced at least 3 feet apart. For team travel, all riders and the driver must wear masks at all times with cohorts separated by at least 3 feet where possible.

Athletes, coaches and support trainers and staff are encouraged to remain 6 feet apart when not in action, such as on the sidelines or in the locker room.

For unvaccinated athletes in high-contact indoor activities, screening tests are required twice weekly. Unvaccinated athletes participating in low- to moderate-risk indoor activities are encouraged, but not required, to participate in weekly screening tests.

Any athlete with a positive COVID test must be excluded from the event and removed from the venue. Positive tests must be reported to the local health district and contact tracing will be performed, while any unvaccinated athletes or staff identified as close contacts should quarantine immediately, regardless of a negative test.

Fully vaccinated personnel or athletes deemed close contacts to someone with a positive test should be tested within 3-5 days following exposure and wear a mask for 14 days, or until a test comes back negative.

Casey McCarthy can be reached via email at